I wrote an article earlier this year about my vision for the City of Lake Geneva. It was a pretty simple vision, really, one where the city does little more than recognize what it is, and then, once content in that recognition, it makes municipal improvements that support that vision. It didn’t seem that difficult to me then, and it doesn’t seem that difficult to me now, but some readers took offense to my advice. They told me that I don’t own the lake (a technicality), and that I don’t speak for everyone (whatever). They told me that Lake Geneva can be all things to all people, which is, of course, objectively incorrect. But still, about this city of ours.
Rather than lump everything together in one onerous post, I think I’m going to make this a series, similar to a Fish Fry Review series, but with fewer hurt feelings and not as many demands (NO I WILL NOT SPREAD APPLESAUCE ON MY POTATO PANCAKES). Today, the simple issue of noise. Perhaps other than smell, this is our sense that can be most easily offended. This is why we torture terrorists with noise. We don’t make them look at ugly houses, we make them listen to awful noise. It should be noted that if I were ever captured and tortured, forcing me to look at vinyl clad raised ranches would make me quite quickly reveal the positions of my platoon. Still, the noise.
My new office building in Lake Geneva is progressing reasonably well. It has been a terribly painful project, but at some point in the next 60-90 days the dust will finally settle and I’ll be in my new office, with all sorts of space that I do not need. Because of this effort, I have found myself in Lake Geneva far more over the past few months than might otherwise be normal. And because of this, I have heard things. Loud things. Diesel things. Motorcycle things. I see the good and the bad of town, but anything I hear aside from squawking gulls and lapping waves is something I do not want to hear.
The city can be quiet, with just the sounds of walking families and rustling leaves. The traffic from town is expected, and even my own discerning ear cannot find fault with the soundtrack of normal traffic. What I cannot abide is the incredible noise coming from diesel pick up trucks, the sort driven by men (boys) who feel the need to rev their engines at each stop light as if that rural mating call will generate the sort of interest that Big Diesel Truck Monthly promises. The black smoke pulsing from the truck is there in case the deafening roar doesn’t do the trick. Beyond the diesel mating call we’re faced with motorcycles of varying makes and models, some shrieking and whiny and others grumbly and rumbly. Either variety obviously only operates if the user continually juices the throttle, again, apparently in some sort of odd dating ritual.
If we could remove these objectionable noise makers, we could improve our town. Do I want to ban big diesel pick-up trucks and loud motorcycles? Of course I do, but I’m aware that until I’m mayor that cannot happen. I’m also aware of the hate mail I’m about to get from Big Motorcycle. Even so, the city of Lake Geneva has several ordinances pertaining to noise and unnecessary engine revving/braking, and I think it’s time we enforce those. How? Well this isn’t a four way stop in western Nebraska. It’s a several block downtown section where there are no fast or clean escape routes. I would suggest the city should put an officer or two at the downtown intersections (in an odd twist of irony, motorcycle cops would be best for this application), and actively write citations for violations of the ordinances. Will that immediately stop the noise? Of course not. But after some time of consistent enforcement, word will slowly get out that downtown Lake Geneva isn’t the place to smoke your tires or rev your engine.
Step One to making the City of Lake Geneva great again? Turn off the noise.
Photograph by Matt Mason Photography