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Nov. 3 meeting will discuss city plans for 2016 street upgrades PDF Print E-mail
Daily News
Written by Ozaukee Press   
Wednesday, 28 October 2015 19:24

A public informational meeting to discuss improvements planned for 10 Port Washington streets next year will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 3.

The meeting will be in the Common Council chambers at City Hall, 100 W. Grand Ave.

Representatives of the city and its design consultant, Gremmer & Associates, will explain the improvements and gather input and concerns from those attending.

The affected streets include Lincoln Avenue from Portview Drive to Spring Street; Tower Drive from Second to Grand avenues; Larabee Street from Spring Street to its west end; Woodland Avenue from Garfield Avenue to the cul de sac; Norport Drive from Grant to Holden streets; Holden Street from James to Norport drives; James Drive from Holden to Benjamin streets; Theis Street from Theis Lane to Benjamin Street; Theis Lane from Theis Street to James Drive; and Benjamin Street from Norport Drive to Beutel Road.

Maps showing the proposed improvements will be on display and information will be available for those present to take home.

The proposed street improvements include reconstruction or resurfacing, spot replacement of existing sidewalk or construction of new sidewalk where there is none, water main replacement and storm and sanitary sewer improvements.

Homeowners who want to replace their sanitary sewer lateral or construct a new storm sewer connection can do so during the project, but at their own expense.Daily Press

No right of way acquisition is anticipated, and there will not be any special assessments for sidewalk except for the installation of walkways where there were none previously.

During construction, the streets will be closed. Construction schedules will be disseminated when available.

Anyone who cannot attend but wants information on the projects is asked to contact City Engineer Rob Vanden Noven at 284-2600 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Attorney says pigs in cities raise concerns PDF Print E-mail
Daily News
Wednesday, 21 October 2015 22:21

Eberhardt asks council to set guidelines regulatingpot-bellied pets in Port

Port Washington City Attorney Eric Eberhardt asked the Common Council Tuesday what it is looking for when considering ways to regulate pot-bellied pigs.

“There are concerns about these animals being raised in urban settings,” he said. “I can draft this ordinance any way you wish.”

Aldermen are considering whether to allow pot-bellied pigs to be kept as pets, a move they undertook after Becky Casarez asked to keep one at her 126 E. Woodruff St. home.

“Pigs are great. They’re really lovable, caring and make a great pet,” she told aldermen in September after they agreed to draw up an ordinance allowing them to be kept much as dogs and cats are.

In a memo to aldermen, Eberhardt said, “There is little doubt that pot-bellied pigs are cute, smart animals that can be kept and trained as household pets. They can be walked on a leash, housebroken and let out to play in the backyard.

“However, their intelligence, curiosity, appetite and behaviors present common problems for living with or near them in an urban setting.”

For example, Eberhardt said, one common problem is that these pigs often grow larger than their owners are led to believe. Because of this, many communities specify that only Vietnamese pot-bellied pigs are allowed.

Aldermen need to decide how many pigs a person could have, whether the number would be per household or lot and whether to allow breeding.

“Breeding is usually prohibited,” he said.

Licensing is often required, and the animals usually have to be leashed when out in public.

One thing Eberhardt recommended was to include a strict requirement about the removal of feces.

That’s because the odor and the amount of waste produced by a pig is significant, he said.

“It is an acrid odor to say the least,” Eberhardt said.

Eberhardt presented aldermen with a questionnaire with ideas on what should be included in a pot-bellied pig ordinance, saying he could draw up this legislation for consideration as soon as the council’s Tuesday, Nov. 3, meeting.

This is the third time in the past four years that aldermen have been asked to allow an unusual animal in the city.

In 2012, they approved beekeeping in the city, and in 2013 they turned down a request by a family to keep chickens.

If the proposed ordinance is approved, Port Washington wouldn’t be the only community in the area to allow pot-bellied pigs. The Village of Grafton also allows residents to keep one Vietnamese pot-bellied pig as a pet.

Port may take another look at funding county rescue boat PDF Print E-mail
Daily News
Wednesday, 21 October 2015 22:19

Commission suggests itwill revisit debate overshared funding for service

Funding for the Ozaukee County rescue boat, which is housed in the Port Washington marina and operated by the county, could once again become a contentious issue.

Members of the Port Washington Harbor Commission last week suggested the city’s subsidy for the rescue boat be reduced.

Although City Administrator Mark Grams on Tuesday said the idea won’t fly this year, he said it could be brought up again next year.

“It’s too far into the budget process this year,” Grams said, noting he had broached the issue with Ald. Dan Becker, who is also a county supervisor. “We could look at it next year.”

The city currently provides the county with a free boat slip and $1,500 in fuel each season, Harbormaster Dennis Cherny said, as well as a $10,000 subsidy.

Harbor Commission members, when reviewing their budget on Oct. 12, said it’s time to revisit the issue.

“I think with all the big box stores and everything going on, the county’s doing pretty well,” Commission Chairman Gerald Gruen Jr. said. “When we agreed to do this, we had some money and they didn’t. Now we’re a little tight.

“I’m all for the rescue boat. I just think they may be a little better able to handle this.”

The city has traditionally provided the slip and fuel, Grams said. The financial subsidy was added after a number of county supervisors threatened for several years to end the rescue boat unless the city helped support it, noting Port Washington has the only harbor and marina in the county.

But charter captain Dale Allen noted that it’s not just Port residents who make use of the rescue boat’s services. When the boat goes to Belgium to aid a boater, Belgium doesn’t help pay for that service, he added.

“What if we just took it out of the budget and didn’t pay it?” asked commission member Jerry Baganz. 

“How should we voice this to the county?”

The commission’s discussion came as members heard that the city is facing a difficult budget year. 

In the past, Grams said, the city was able to increase its expenditures by 2% to 2.5% and still fall within the limits of the state’s expenditure restraint law. This year, because the consumer price index is low, the budget can only increase about 1.2%.

The budget is also constrained by state levy limits. Because of the way the formula works, Grams said, “this is the tough year. Next year we’re going to have another $100,000 we can levy.”

“It’s not a pretty situation,” Ald. Bill Driscoll, a member of the commission, said.Daily Press

“We need to get their ear. Maybe if you put in the paper we’ll only rescue people from Port Washington it’ll get their attention.” 

The city’s finance committee met all day Tuesday to work on the proposed 2016 budget.

Grams said he still needs to finalize some numbers, but the budget is largely completed — with the rescue boat subsidy.

The budget also includes funding for another police officer, he said, although the position likely won’t be authorized until mid-year.

Proposed county budget includes new assistant district attorney PDF Print E-mail
Daily News
Written by MICHAEL LoCICERO   
Wednesday, 14 October 2015 19:46

Committee backs request for position after state fails to pay for additional prosecutor

An Ozaukee County committee recom-mended last week that the county do what the state has not by funding an additional assistant district attorney position in the 2016 budget.

Although it’s the state’s responsibility to pay for county prosecutors, the Executive Committee added $74,462 to the proposed budget for a third assistant district attorney after being told by District Attorney Adam Gerol that a county-funded position is the only hope of getting his office the help it needs in the near future.

“I’m basically asking for this by default,” Gerol said. “The state should be funding this, but they failed. I don’t have an explanation for it.”

Ozaukee County last added an assistant district attorney in 1979 and has one prosecutor for approximately 29,000 residents.

The state average, Gerol said, is a 1-to-13,000 ratio.

Among counties of similar size, St. Croix County in northwest Wisconsin has six full-time prosecutors for 85,930 residents.

Eau Claire and Fond du Lac counties, with just more than 101,000 residents each, have eight full-time prosecutors.

Gerol said the lack of staffing has caused his office to “screw up from time to time.” 

“The easiest thing for a prosecutor to do is charge a case,” Gerol said. “We should be expected to put at least one day of preparation in for a case. I don’t have time to do that.”

Supr. Kathy Geracie, a member of the committee, said the county can’t afford to ignore Gerol’s request. 

“This is a commitment to public safety,” Geracie said. “This is common sense.”

Supr. Karl Hertz said he would likely support the new position when it’s voted on by the County Board, but cautioned that adding the position may make the state reconsider future funding in the district attorney’s office.

“I think it’s inevitable that the state would not fund more positions and we would be lucky to keep the ones we have,” Hertz said. 

The committee also recommended spending $114,000 on an energy action plan that would replace lighting at some county buildings with more efficient options.

An initial draft of the budget prepared by County Administrator Tom Meaux held the tax levy flat, following a board directive. However, the county can increase its tax levy by about $187,000 without increasing taxes because, in part, of an increase in equalized property value.Daily Press

With the changes made by the committee, the proposed 2016 tax levy is $19.7 million, an increase of 0.96% from this year, and the tax rate is $1.84 per $1,000 of equalized valuation, a decrease of four cents from this year. 

Residents who live in rural areas and pay the federated library tax as part of their county tax bill will see a tax rate decrease of three cents, or $2.12 per $1,000 of equalized value.

The county’s equalized valuation rose 3.19% from last year to $10.7 billion.

The board is expected to discuss the Executive Committee’s proposed budget on Wednesday, Oct. 21.

A public hearing on the budget is set for 7 p.m. Monday, Nov. 2, with adoption expected at the board’s Wednesday, Nov. 4, meeting.

Marina parking crunch concerns city officials PDF Print E-mail
Daily News
Wednesday, 14 October 2015 19:44

Proposed construction, seasonal shortage of spaces have commission exploring ways to help tenants, anglers

Parking took center stage Monday as the Port Washington Harbor Commission debated needs in the marina area, especially if three large building projects are constructed nearby next summer.

“I want to know what would happen with parking with all the proposed building that may be going on down here,” Ald. Bill Driscoll, a member of the Harbor Commission, said. 

“What are our concerns here? I don’t think any of us want that to affect our marina tenants or fishermen.”

Harbormaster Dennis Cherny said the concern is easy to define — “The reality is there are times when there isn’t enough parking.”

There are 270 marina slips, he said, and only about 150 parking spots in the marina lot, not including the trailer parking.

“We are surviving on what we’ve got,” he said, noting the marina makes use of            about 20 trailer spots in the Victor’s restaurant lot and street parking when needed.

But if the construction projects move ahead at the same time, commission members said, the situation will change because the available parking will be reduced.

“It’s a domino effect,” commission member Jerry Baganz said. “We’ve had some safety valves, and those safety valves are being taken away, one by one.”

Those three potential projects are Port Harbour Lights, which is adjacent to the parking lot behind Duluth Trading Co.; the Blues Factory, which is proposed to take up the existing lot at the end of the north slip marina; and a development on the former Victor’s restaurant lot off Washington Street. 

Members of the charter fishing fleet have expressed concern about whether staging for the construction projects would take up the nearby lots, constricting what they said is already limited parking.

If their customers or marina tenants can’t find convenient parking, several captains noted, they won’t return to the city.

“It only takes one season to push people out of the marina,” said Dale Allen, vice president of the charter fishing association.

“If you lose 10 people, you don’t get those 10 back.”

Although City Administrator Mark Grams noted that a recent parking study showed there was sufficient parking in the area, commission members and the captains disagreed.

“What we’re really concerned about is peak parking,” Baganz said. “Ninety percent of the time there’s enough parking. But what does the city do when there just isn’t enough parking? We need to identify places to send people.”

When commission members discussed what they see as parking needs in the area, Driscoll said he wanted to hear not just their concerns but potential solutions as well.

Trailer parking is an acute need, commission members said.

Lisa Rathke, assistant harbormaster, suggested the city reconfigure the parking lot off Lake Street next to the Legion Hall to again allow for overflow trailer parking.

“If the Victor’s lot goes, we need to take out the boulevard at the Legion,” she said. “That would be very helpful.” 

The marina used to send trailer owners to the lot, she said, but after the city rebuilt it several years ago, newly installed medians made it impossible for trailers to maneuver in the lot.

Commission members also suggested the city think twice before selling any portion of the city-owned lot next to Victor’s, noting it is an important asset.

To ease the concerns of charter fishermen who said their customers can’t park nearby, Rathke suggested that the city create a loading zone in the lot behind Duluth Trading Co. 

Before the city rebuilt the lot, there were three short-term parking spots dedicated for this purpose, she noted.Daily Press

“That’s one thing we should have done,” Grams said.

Rathke also noted the need for marina staff and tenants to be involved in discussions about redesigning the marina parking lot — something currently being handled by the Main Street Design Committee.

While expressing concern about parking in the marina area, Driscoll said that can’t be the city’s only concern.

“We can’t just talk about the charters. We can’t just talk about the marina or businesses,” he said. “We have to talk about everything.”

A tribute to Port player, groundskeeper PDF Print E-mail
Daily News
Written by BILL SCHANEN IV   
Wednesday, 07 October 2015 20:09

Plaque honoring late Demge will be unveiled Friday night at entrance to school football field

DuWayne Demge spent a lot of time on the Port Washington High School football field, first as a player, then as a groundskeeper.

So it seemed fitting, his co-workers thought, to remember their friend who died of cancer on Feb. 8, 2014, with a plaque on one of two pillars at the entrance to the field named for his former coach, Al Urness.

“I called Al and asked him if he would like a neighbor on the archway, and he said, ‘Sure, DuWayne was a great guy,’” said Janet Trzecinski, secretary to the principal of Port High and a friend of Demge who helped organize the memorial.

The plaque, which is mounted opposite of the one acknowledging Urness’ contributions to the school and its football program, will be unveiled during a 6 p.m. ceremony Friday, Oct. 9, prior to the Port vs. Germantown football game.

“We decided this would be a very fitting place to remember our friend since he spent so much time on the field,” Trzecinski said. 

The “we” she referred to is a group of school district employees who remember Demge, a custodian and groundskeeper for the district for more than 20 years, as a big-hearted man whose life both as a student and adult revolved around the Port-Saukville School District.

    The group’s fundraising effort began before Demge’s death as a way to support him during what became a four-year battle against a rare form of lung cancer. Those efforts continued over the years, netting enough money, along with donations, to pay for the plaque. Among the donations was a gift from the Port Washington Firefighters Association, appropriate since Demge was a firefighter for many years.

    “The staff has done a lot of different things over the years to help him out during his fight and decided after his death that this was a good way to use some of the money raised because he was such an integral part of taking care of the field he once played on,” said Steve Schmidt, a school district custodian and assistant fire chief. 

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