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Plan calls for city to retain subdivision bluff land PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 26 July 2017 19:17

Property along east side of development would be used for public trails, beach access

    The City of Port Washington would retain ownership of the top of the south bluff and the slope leading to the beach when the proposed Prairie’s Edge subdivision is developed, the Plan Commission learned last week.
    Members of the commission, which reviewed and approved plans for public access in the proposed subdivision July 20, were enthused about the proposal, saying it will ensure continued lake access for residents and visitors.
    “I think this is exactly what we were looking for, public access to our shoreline and our beach,” Ald. Mike Ehrlich, a member of the commission, said. “This developer seems to care about having public access. I think this is a great opportunity.”
    The city and Black Cap Halcyon, a Milwaukee real estate investment firm, are negotiating an offer to purchase the city-owned property along the south bluff and a developer’s agreement for the proposed subdivision.
    Randy Tetzlaff, the city’s director of planning and development, said the plan is for Black Cap Halcyon to buy 35.19 acres, with the city retaining ownership of about five acres along the bluff — as well as the slope.
    Black Cap Halcyon would also dedicate another roughly five acres for public access, he said, with this land used for trails the firm would develop and maintain in perpetuity.
    Next to the trails, the firm would create a prairie grassland that would help protect the bluff from erosion, Tetzlaff said.
    “The developer has a vision for this area,” he said, noting he may install lighting, signs and benches along the trail at his expense.
    The city and the developer will apply for grants to help defray the cost of constructing the trails, Tetzlaff added.
    The trails would be used primarily for pedestrians, Tetzlaff said, with bicycles directed to a bike path along Highway C that would connect to downtown to the north and Cedar Vineyard subdivision to the south.
    The trails are envisioned as 14 feet wide — eight feet of pavement with three-foot shoulders — he said. They would meander along the bluff for roughly 3,130 feet.
    Tetzlaff said the city and developer would like to build a staircase to the south beach, but that will depend on whether the bluff is stable enough for this.
    If it works, he noted, there would be four public access points to the south beach — the beach access at We Energies as well as stairs at Prairie’s Edge and Cedar Vineyard in Port and Lions Den Gorge Nature Preserve in the Town of Grafton.
    “The long-term goal is to provide public beach from South Beach to Lions Den,” Tetzlaff said. “It won’t happen overnight, but that’s the goal.”
    Mayor Tom Mlada, chairman of the commission, commended the measure.
    “I think there’s a lot to be said for the city owning the public access,” he said. “I think you’d be hard pressed to find another community on the Great Lakes with this degree of public access.”
    Black Cap Halcyon has proposed a mixed-use development on the property, with development occurring in three phases.
    Prairie’s Edge would include 152 multi-family units, as well as 48 townhouses and 34 cottages in addition to commercial space. The developer has said the commercial uses would complement, not compete, with downtown shops and offices.
    Black Cap Halcyon — one of three firms that vied for the property — is expected to pay $2.86 million for the land and is asking for $4.1 million in subsidies for the project, primarily to pay for public amenities on the site.
    City Administrator Mark Grams said that when fully developed, Prairie’s Edge is expected to have a value between $50 million and $60 million.

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