There’s a cheeky little line about a dead squirrel that some people like to tell. They say that the road is full of dead squirrels who couldn’t make up their mind. I suppose this is true, at least in some part. I’ve always heard that phrase and decided I don’t like it. I don’t like it because, I would argue, the road is full of dead squirrels who should have just stayed on their side of the road. What was so important over there anyway? A taller tree with more nuts? A prettier girl squirrel? Odds are nothing was over there that was any better or different than what he had on his side of the road. The squirrel died not because he couldn’t make up his mind, but because he didn’t realize that crossing the road wasn’t necessary.
This winter, the village of Williams Bay slapped up an ice rink on the parking lot where the fishermen park their trailers after they launch their boats, the ones with the live wells loaded with invasive species. The rink was small and oval, with little sides intended to hold the water in. Once set up on that uneven parking lot, the town flooded the oval and the water froze. But then it melted and then it snowed and then it thawed and then it froze before it rained. I saw someone skate on it once, but not twice. The rink is still there, maybe hoping for another deep freeze, which is almost certain to come. But the rink is terrible and while I don’t doubt the good intentions of whichever group paid for it, it now mars the drive to and from my office. This rink is a great example of doing something when doing nothing was the better decision.
This phenomenon isn’t unique to Williams Bay. The city of Lake Geneva last summer had some hand written signs littered about town that read “Something something trolly parking something something this way”. I don’t remember what they said, but the idea was that there was free parking somewhere out of town and that if only people would follow the hand scribbled signs they’d understand. Why would the city of Lake Geneva, with its immense budget and general fine form, opt to this lowest common denominator of communication? Well, because they wanted people to park outside of town and take the trolly in. The problem here is that by the time someone in a car reads the hand-made sign they’ve already contributed to the traffic and by then it’s too late. So why would the city put up such a silly looking sign in such a polished downtown? Because someone felt that something had to be done. As a point of fact, no it didn’t.
I’d like the newly acquired Hilmoor property to have a massive parking lot, hidden from view, with two or three trolleys running 7 am to 9 pm seven days a week between Memorial Day and Labor Day. That’s something I would very much like. That would keep traffic out of town before it’s stuck in it. It would cost $20 for a full day of parking at that lot, and as part of this, the in-town parking rates would increase, which is something that people like to decry but is in reality healthy for the town. This would be an attractive amenity for town but only if it’s done in first class fashion. Why do something sort of well when you could just hold off and one day do it very well? Why slap up a disposable ice rink when, if you were a town looking to encourage ice skating, you could raise money and hire a firm to build a proper ice rink with refrigeration, the sort I see in the synthetic mountain towns? Why hand scratch notes about parking when you could someday just have a refined parking and trolly operation with beautifully classic signage and branding that proves this town is as world class as I know it could be? If you’re an agent from Chicago why would you think you could drive to work in Lake Geneva to try to eat some of our delicious pie? Besides, it’s well known that I’ve already eaten most of it and I coughed on the pieces I didn’t eat. But still, sometimes it’s best to do nothing. After all, there’s no chance of dying in the road if you’re just happily going about your business on your side of the street.