Residents will ‘ratchet up’ petition drive in effort to persuade Port council not to sell lakefront parking lot
Residents who hope to persuade the Port Washington Common Council not to sell a city-owned lakefront parking lot for development plan to step up their petition drive next week.
Pat Wilborn, who is organizing the drive, said the group decided to take a break during the holidays but will “ratchet it back up next week.”
“During the holidays people aren’t thinking about this,” Wilborn said. “Once we get over the holidays, we’re going to start up in earnest.”
The group will publish the petition in next week’s edition of Ozaukee Press for people to sign and submit, he said.
“What we need is something that will get the petition outside the downtown district. That is the objective here,” Wilborn said, noting the petition is available to residents at a number of restaurants and shops downtown.
The group, which Wilborn said is organizing under the name Citizens for a Clearer View of the Harbor, has been vocal in its opposition to a recent Common Council decision to declare a parking lot adjacent to the north end of the north slip surplus and seek development proposals for the property.
Aldermen have said they will consider selling the property for private development that will create a year-round destination for tourists and residents, such as a brew pub.
So far, Wilborn’s group has garnered “well over 400 signatures” on the petition, which urges aldermen “not to pursue the private development of this land and to consider a partnership with a local community group to develop this land as green space that would be available to all citizens and visitors of Port Washington.”
The Greater Port Washington Kiwanis Club has proposed creating a park on the property. A public meeting to garner ideas for the park and volunteers to work on the project will be held from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 22, at the Niederkorn Library.
Wilborn said Citizens for a Clearer View of the Harbor plans to seek a meeting with Mayor Tom Mlada to discuss the property and its potential future use.
“We want to work through this so we eliminate the potential for hurt feelings on either side,” Wilborn said.
The group is interested in more than just plans for the parking lot, he added.
“The group could have a long-term role ... to be more in touch with what’s happening with the Plan Commission and the city’s planning process,” he said, particularly as it pertains to the waterfront.
“If we had been aware of this (plan) sooner, I think we could have headed this whole thing off.”
Wilborn said the group hopes to persuade city officials to concentrate its development efforts to the downtown along Franklin and Main streets and Grand Avenue.
On the lakefront, he said, the group would prefer to see one or two-story structures built closer to Jackson Street, reserving the areas closer to the lake for single-story buildings and leaving the waterfront free of development.
“If Chicago can do it, Port Washington can certainly figure out how to do it,” Wilborn said.