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Lake Geneva mayor irked by proposal for Hillmoor committee

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Kathleen Foody
July 28, 2009
— Though several aldermen pushed hard for the formation of a committee to evaluate purchasing Hillmoor Golf Course, the Lake Geneva City Council meeting Monday ended with only a promise that Mayor Bill Chesen will consider their suggestion.

The mayor balked at an item on the agenda calling for “discussion and possible action” on forming such a committee.


“I had people in place I was going to appoint tonight, but I’m upset this was brought up as a public issue instead of a final issue,” he said.


The city’s ordinances allow the council to create permanent committees, not temporary bodies, as the Hillmoor committee would be, City Attorney Dan Draper said. The council can recommend the formation of an ad hoc committee and must approve any the mayor proposes.


Aldermen proposed two ordinances. The first was on the agenda and specified the committee would consider a municipal golf course. The second was proposed during the meeting and allowed the committee to consider many alternative uses for the land, including a golf course.


Chesen told the council he was willing to consider forming a committee unless he felt “backed into a corner.”


“I’m tired of a few of my council members trying to run the city from bloc voting,” he said. “If I have to stand up and be the bad guy I’m going to. I am the mayor, whether you like it or not.”


Aldermen Mary Jo Fesenmaier, Penny Roehrer and Tom Spellman voted in favor of forming a committee, despite the mayor’s implication. They were defeated, 4-3.


The high auction price of the land still is a sticking point for the mayor. The cost of running the course should be the primary concern going forward and has not been considered enough in discussions so far, Chesen said.


The majority of the land was sold to the bank that foreclosed on the property at a sheriff’s auction last week. Kennedy Funding paid $17 million for the property and still is waiting for a judge to approve the sale, attorney Nancy Johnson said before the meeting.


The bank fully intends to sell the land and is hiring staff to market the land and look for buyers who will work with the city, Johnson said.



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