With outside funds unavailable, Port mayor wants council to find way to install safety upgrade in lakefront park this year
Port Washington officials need to recognize that grant money won’t pay for a railing along the promenade at Coal Dock Park, Mayor Tom Mlada said.
“The bottom line is that we need to address it,” he said. “I think it’s a question the council will ultimately have to take up.
“I’d like to see it done in 2015.”
At the very least, Mlada said, he would like the city to come up with a plan of action so a railing could be installed next year.
“The first step is to get the right solution in place,” he said.
The Coal Dock Committee on Friday took up the issue but made no recommendation, primarily because there isn’t any money available to construct the railing, Public Works Director Rob Vanden Noven, chairman of the committee, said.
“Right now, it’s about finances,” he said, noting the cost to install the railing along the 1,000-foot-long promenade is estimated at $200,000.
The high cost is due, in part, to the fact the railing would match the remainder of the city’s lakefront railings and be constructed out of materials that won’t rust and will minimize maintenance.
“What we had hoped for in grants is either gone or wasn’t there for this purpose,” Vanden Noven said.
The city has looked at diverting some grant money from other projects in the park to the railing, but that hasn’t been allowed, he said.
The reason the city didn’t initially install the railing is that it had expected large boats to moor along the promenade, and the railing would limit the ability of these ships to do that, Vanden Noven said.
The promenade was also made particularly wide — 18-1/2 feet — so people could keep youngsters away from the edge while still enjoying the lakefront views, he added.
But the expected large boat traffic hasn’t materialized, Vanden Noven said.
“If the boats aren’t coming in, the question (of a railing) comes down to cost,” he said.
Even if boats come in, the city could construct gates along the railing that would allow boats to moor in the area.
The railing is important, Mlada said, because the lack of one is keeping people away from the park — one of Port’s premier lakeside recreational spaces.
“It’s a bit of a limitation, especially for parents with young children,” he said. “There’s a collective feeling this should get done. Let’s figure out a way to get it done.
“I think people have generally been understanding, but you reach a point ... we’re two-plus years into this and it’s time to take action.”
Mlada said Vanden Noven was asked to look at options for the railing and updated cost figures for the Coal Dock Committee to consider in May.
The Parks and Recreation Board, which has consistently sought to have a railing installed in the park, will also be asked for a recommendation on the matter, Mlada said.
He then expects the Common Council to take up the issue.
There are a number of ways the city could finance the cost of the railing, Mlada said.
“There are options we could explore,” he said.
The city could include funding in a borrowing issue it is expected to approve next year, he said.
Or, if the city sells the lakefront parking lot adjacent to the north slip, it could use some of the proceeds to help pay for the railing, Mlada said.
The Parks and Recreation Board also recently suggested that the railing be broken into segments and sponsorships be sought for each leg.
Some money has already been raised from the community to offset the cost of the railing. The Port Washington-Saukville Jaycees dedicated the $6,000 it raised in its inaugural Land Regatta Run and Walk last year for the project, and the Port Washington Woman’s Club has also pledged $1,000 for the railing.