The White River Trail Project, envisioned in 1995, took a step closer to getting off the ground when the Lake Geneva City Council authorized an appraisal in order for Lake Geneva to apply for a grant from the State of Wisconsin.
According to City Business Administrator Jordan, this 60 acre parcel of wetlands is environmentally sensitive land and the City first has to get an appraisal of the land in order to be eligible for a 50/50 matching grant from the State. Alderman Krause stated that the State has a lot of money set aside for this type of project and the City has $200K earmarked for land acquisition using TIF funds.
There are three different grants the DNR has available and they will determine which one the City can get.
The land would be in addition to the 37 acres the City already owns at Hillmore. It would be designated for bike/walking/ nature trails, environmental nature viewing and a place to launch canoes and kayaks on the very popular White river.
All aldermen voted in favor of the appraisal and applying for the matching grant from the State except for Alderman Tom Hartz. Hartz gave the specious excuse of voting against the appraisal and application because the City does not know the owner of the land and whether or not this portion would be for sale.Last year during the Smart Growth hearings Mr. Hartz believed the former Hillmore property should be designated low income housing.
According to Jordan, Wright, the developer that is in foreclosure, still owns the property and Kennedy Funding, who is the lender, has not completed the foreclosure process as yet.
The wetlands the Green Ribbon Committee wants the city to purchase is comprised of 60 acres still owned by Wright, 10 acres by Peller, and 7 acres of Knopfsky’s land.