Picnic pavilion dedicated to drowning victims proposed for new public lakefront area
The Port Washington Waterfront Safety Advisory Committee unveiled plans this week for a picnic pavilion memorial to Tyler Buczek and a second young man who drowned in Lake Michigan last year that would be placed prominently in the city’s soon-to-be opened Coal Dock Park.
The plans for the octagon-shaped pavilion, which would include an elevated lookout, were to be presented to the Coal Dock Committee Wednesday.
The pavilion would include a small plaque dedicating the structure to Tyler, the 15-year-old Port Washington teenager who was playing with friends on a sandbar off the city’s north beach when he was washed away in the surf and drowned on Sept. 2, and 23-year-old Peter Dougherty.
Dougherty, a Port Washington resident, drowned while kayaking off the city’s shore on March 11, 2012.
Tyler’s parents, Joe and Kim Buczek, suggested Dougherty’s name be included on the memorial, said Jim Buczek, Tyler’s uncle and a member of the safety committee.
“We contacted the Doughertys and they said they would be flattered to have Peter’s name included,” Buczek said.
Initial plans for the memorial called for a small sitting area in the park, but they quickly grew into a proposal for a more formidable structure to reflect Tyler’s commitment to excellence, Buczek said. The teenager was a star student known for his elaborate projects, like the functional hovercraft he made for the Thomas Jefferson Middle School science fair.
“We wanted something a little bigger than a sitting area because Tyler was the type of kid who always wanted to contribute something more,” Buczek said.
Working with local architect Mike Ehrlich, the committee settled on a pavilion that would be roughly 30 feet in diameter — large enough to accommodate several picnic tables — and have a red metal roof supported by columns. Plans call for an eight-sided viewing area extended above the main roof accessible by a spiral staircase in the middle of the pavilion.
Located next to the main parking lot in the south-central part of the park, which is being developed on lakefront land once used as a dock for freighters and coal storage for the We Energies power plant, the pavilion would provide views of both the lake and downtown.
Buczek said that if plans are approved by the Coal Dock Park Committee, the hope is to have the pavilion completed by late summer.
Mayor Tom Mlada, who is chairman of the safety committee, said that in addition to being a fitting memorial to two Port Washington residents, the pavilion would be a welcome addition to the park.
“As well as being a tribute, it would be a very functional addition to the park,” he said. “It will offer families visiting the park the opportunity for a respite.”
Plans call for a walkway that will lead from the memorial pavilion around the outside of the park to a sitting area on its northeast corner being built in memory of Tyler by Eagle Scout candidate Max Noll.
The bench and modern-looking sun shade has special meaning to Noll, 15, who plans to finish the project in time for the park dedication in June.
“I am really motivated to complete this project,” said Noll, who added that Ehrlich and Buczek are helping him with the sitting area. “Tyler was one of my very best friends.”
Tyler’s parents said they are heartened by plans for the memorial as well as the many water safety initiatives that are being implemented.
“We are encouraged by the memorials that are planned and the support that is still present,” Mrs. Buczek said. “Tyler was an incredibly special person who left his mark on this community. It’s nice to see the community rally around this tragedy now and develop something so positive from something so tragic.”
Image Information: A PRELIMINARY RENDERING for a memorial to Tyler Buczek and Peter Dougherty, who both drowned in Lake Michigan in separate incidents last year, shows an octagon-shaped picnic pavilion with a lookout that would be built in Port Washington’s soon-to-be-opened Coal Dock Park. The plans were to be reviewed by the city’s Coal Dock Committee Wednesday.