Parks committee urges city to install safeguard but other officials say structures could impede access to ships
The Port Washington Parks and Recreation Board recommended last week the city install railings along the harbor side of Coal Dock Park before it opens next month — a feature
members said they consider an essential waterfront safety measure.
“I would like to see our board really push the city to have this completed before we open it up to the public,” board member Patti Lemkuil said. “Let’s be that community that seizes
the opportunity to do the right thing, and I think the right thing to happen is the guard rail.”
There is no railing separating the promenade from the water on the north side of the soon-to-be completed park in part because of concerns that a rail would interfere with the
docking of large ships.
“One of the draws of Coal Dock Park is the deep harbor that it provides for tall ships or larger vessels,” said Public Works Director Rob Vanden Noven, chairman of the Coal Dock
The Coal Dock Committee, which consists of city officials and citizens, was created to oversee the creation of the park on the former We Energies coal dock. It is expected to
consider the Parks and Recreation Board recommendation when it meets at the park on Thursday.
“Having the railing there could be an impediment to docking,” Vanden Noven said.
But Parks and Recreation Board members said the safety of people using the park should be the paramount concern.
Alderman Kevin Rudser, a member of the board, suggested installing railings similar to those in the marina and harborwalk.
“In the marina, if you’re down on the boardwalk there’s no railing, but if you’re up on the sidewalk you have that railing,” he said. “If you did something similar in that space where the
railing was 6 or 9 feet off the end, then the fishermen and tall ships would have access, but if you’re walking with small children they could walk inside the rail.”
But Vanden Noven said there are features on the promenade that will naturally discourage people from walking along the water’s edge.
“There are moorings every 100 feet; we have five marine pedestals, plus we have lighting bollards every 50 feet,” he said. “So in any case, a person can’t walk a straight line along
Vanden Noven noted the promenade is 18-1/2-feet wide, so people will not be forced to walk near the edge of the dock.
Mayor Tom Mlada said that while he hopes the lack of a railing doesn’t dissuade people from using what will be one of the city’s premiere parks, the cost of adding a railing needs to
“I’d hate to think that we’re opening this beautiful park and then we’re immediately limiting ourselves in terms of the demographic that might use it. In other words, parents may not
go out there because of safety issues,” Mlada said. “But I think it really comes down to budget. That was part of it as well.”
The park is being funded through grants and city contributions, Vanden Noven said.
A celebration of the park opening is expected to be held Saturday, Sept. 28.
Image Information: STANDING ON THE north promenade of the nearly completed Coal Dock Park in Port Washington, Parks and Recreation Board members discussed the need for a guard railing along the 1,000-foot walkway. Photo by Sam Arendt