UPDATE: Riviera Beach Expansion Proposal Now Under Further Review

***UPDATE***

We are pleased to announce that the Lake Geneva City Council and the Public Works Committee decided to move the proposed Riviera Beach expansion project back to the Piers and Harbors Committee for further review.

During a City Council meeting on August 7, Alderman Doug Skates recommended discussing a redesign of the project because he had heard many citizens voice concern over the project’s impact and need – and the The Lake Geneva News reported that seven people spoke out against the project during the Public Works Committee meeting the following week.

Public Works Director Tom Earle reportedly stated that the entire project began as a maintenance endeavor that was projected at $121,440. The current proposal, which includes moved to eliminate green space, has a price tag of $311,000.

The LG City Council initially approved the expansion on July 17 without offering the public an opportunity to offer input, but that didn’t stop you from making your voices were heard. We are proud to report that over 70 members of the Geneva Lake community have signed our petition urging city officials to reconsider this proposal, and others have reached out to us asking what else can be done.

We are happy to see the City Council listen to residents and re-evaluate the need and plan of this project. It is important that we stay engaged and participate in the process.

Please share our petition with your network, and continue to contact our city officials. Contact info for the City Council is at the bottom of our original blog post below. Thank you!

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ORIGINAL DECISION: CITY COUNCIL APPROVES BEACH EXPANSION 

During a recent City Council meeting, the Lake Geneva City Council voted 6-2 to approve plans to expand the west side of Riviera Beach, adding approximately 12,400 square feet that would accommodate an additional 200 beach goers.

The city also plans to replace the eroding retaining wall and wooden walkway on the west side of the beach with a cement one. Total estimated cost for the project is $311,000. 

Aldermen Elizabeth Chappell and Cindy Flower were the two “no” votes on the expansion, while the council unanimously agreed that a new retaining wall was needed. Alderman Flower did push for them at least coloring the walkway a sandy color to make it more visually appealing.

You can read the complete summary of the council meeting here.

The decision to expand the beach may be surprising because, while Riviera Beach is popular, over-crowding has never been an issue. Current estimated capacity is 2,400, but even during peak days, the beach has never seen more than 1,900 people at once.

This raises a big question:

Why are council members pushing to expand a beach that doesn’t even reach 80% capacity on peak days?

According to the Lake Geneva News, City Administrator Blaine Osborn explained the DNR permit is not required for the expansion because the proposed expansions and renovations do not directly affect the lake. The project will have serious consequences, though.

First, the project will require relocating a lakefront purple martin condo further into Library Park. This home includes several living units specially constructed for the birds that are already endangered due to loss of habitat and aggression by invasive species.

Avian Committee chairwoman Beverly Leonard reportedly explained Federal law prohibits disrupting purple martin housing during nesting season, which runs from April to October. To address this, council members added an addendum to their motion to approve the project, calling for caution when moving these sensitive bird homes.

Three or four trees will also need to be cut down to clear space for additional sandy beach.

Perhaps the greatest question is how the proposal would impact Riviera Beach’s status as a low-key place to relax on a sunny day. Expanding the sandy area severely cuts into the wide strip of grass along the inside boarder of the beach where many people go to sunbathe or sit without dealing with sand.

Have city council members asked beach goers how they feel about the proposed expansion?

The price tag for the project was a main topic addressed during the council meeting. Alderman Flower noted that according to her calculations, the city would only see an increase of $35,000 a year in additional revenues. At this rate, it will take 10 years to have a return on the investment.

Here at Care for Lake Geneva, we support responsible development that enhances our communities and benefits residents. The question is, does this expansion accomplish these things? Is the cost, financial and environmental, worth the extra beach space? We want to hear from you!

We will soon post a brief questionnaire on our site to gather feedback from those most impacted by this expansion proposal: community members. Stay tuned for that questionnaire!

In the meantime, we encourage you to contact our city officials directly and help us get questions answered. Please let us know how they respond.

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