Surprising Stuff

If the city decides to close down Wrigley Drive to be a plaza mostly used for outdoor dining, what will it cost and how will it be done?
The receivables will decline, as 69 of the most desired and expensive parking spots in the city (that normally generate a $250,000/yr.) will be lost, which would reduce parking revenue profit by the $250,000, or by about 44%. Another way of viewing this is that the city will have to increase charges on the rest of the meters by $250,000 to cover this loss. There may also be the additional cost to build and to maintain any new structures, landscaping, and facilities. Blocking the road will also interfere with tour buses, cabs, catering, garbage pickup, gas delivery trucks, food and beverage delivery trucks, the street department’s lawn maintenance crews, and Riviera’s refuse pickup.

If the city closes down Wrigley Drive, from the corner of Cook Street and Main Street to its intersection with Broad Street, then it would still have to leave open access to the fire lane and service alley behind Popeye’s, and to leave open access to the Riviera driveway for the street department’s equipment to reach and rake the beach, and also for the city trucks to remove the seaweed and other lake debris through the Riviera’s driveway. So, a sufficient portion of the road itself must remain travelable at all times, and cannot be blocked with vending or other somewhat stationary obstacles or structures. Everything affects everything in a such a small area, and the loss of those parking stalls will effectively move all parked vehicles 69 parking stalls further from city’s center (the lakefront) and increase everyone’s walking distance to the Riviera and to the beach. This will also make everything less accessible to the handicapped and the elderly.

The big selling point appears to be outdoor dining, which is great when the weather cooperates, but in the City of Lake Geneva rain falls on an average of 10 rainy days every month during the months of June, July and August, which means it rains on the average 33% or 1/3 of the prime tourist days. In addition to rainy days, there are the days and times that it is too hot, too cold, too humid or too windy for comfortable outdoor dining. Adding these days to the rainy days limits pleasant outdoor dining in the City of Lake Geneva to about half of the time or 45 days during the summer. Since the vast majority of the visitors to Lake Geneva arrive on weekends, these further limits those good outdoor dining days from 45 to between two 13 to 27 weekend days per summer. Those days are already so crowded, the restaurants can barely handle the volume now, so adding street vending on those days would probably not hurt current businesses, but it would divide and reduce their business on the other 77 days of the summer.

Unlike many other resorts, Lake Geneva is primarily a weekend resort and because it is so close to the Chicago area, most visitors check the weather in the morning and base their final decision to come or not come to Lake Geneva on the day’s weather forecast. Things will continue this way until visitors are protected from the weather in Lake Geneva, and if that happens Lake Geneva might just as well close its doors because being in Lake Geneva is an outside experience, enjoyed in the center of a small town. It is, right now, a personal break from one’s busy sometimes hectic life in a safe, friendly environment by a clear beautiful lake. Lake Geneva’s attraction is not just what it has, but also in what it does not have.

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