Share this page on facebook
Editorials
A safe breakwater—and a safe dock PDF Print E-mail
News
Written by Ozaukee Press   
Wednesday, 12 March 2014 15:00

The efforts of breakwater advocates pay off in a March surprise; meanwhile the Common Council sets the stage for a better idea for Coal Dock Park dock safety

Battered for months by gales and brutal seas, Port Washington’s outer harbor emerged from the onslaught of foul weather on a halcyon day last week to find calm water, a gentle breeze and a clear sky.

    A nautical metaphor is apt, for what happened on that day brought relief to Port Washington not unlike that felt by seafarers who have survived savage storms.

    The day was Tuesday, March 4, a day when good news arrived for two critical arms of the harbor—the north side breakwater and the south side Coal Dock Park dock.

    At 5 p.m., Rep. Tom Petri telephoned Ozaukee Press to report that the Army Corps of Engineers had found enough money to do what everyone said could not be done anytime soon—repair the breakwater this year to make it safe for fishermen and walkers to use.

    Just over three hours later the Common Council made a wise decision that could lead to the installation of a proper railing on the dangerous Coal Dock Park promenade.

     For the breakwater, the Corps found $950,000 in uncommitted funding. Its contractors will be working on projects near Port Washington this spring, which will help expedite the repairs here.

    The council’s decision, encouraged by a strong showing of citizens, was to withhold approval of the so-called “curb” that has been proposed as a safety measure for the promenade along Coal Dock Park’s 1,000-foot dock. The aldermen thus provided time for the city to come to the obvious and essential conclusion that a railing is needed to guard what is now an invitation to tragedy.

    As for the unexpected breakwater development, two aspects stand out:

    First, it wasn’t just good luck. Petri, Republican congressman from Fond du Lac whose district includes most of Ozaukee County, was instrumental in making it happen, and his efforts were a sterling example of effective constituent service. But Petri was involved, and the Corps of Engineers was primed to act, because officials and citizens of Port Washington (as well as this newspaper), relentlessly advocated for help for a structure whose failure would have been a disaster for the city. The result of this campaign, which was led by Mayor Tom Mlada, is that the squeaky wheel it dramatized is about to get a shot of WD40.


    Second, the $950,000 expenditure the Corps says will yield a repair that will be good for a number of years is eye-opening. Federal officials had led people to believe it would cost as much as $17 million to make the breakwater safe. It may yet cost that much to do the complete rebuilding of the structure that the Corps says will eventually be needed, but the fact that an immediate fix can be accomplished for a veritable pittance in federal money raises questions about why this wasn’t done sooner. In any case, advocates for breakwater rebuilding will need to stay focused to ensure that long-term improvements are done at some point.

    Meanwhile, the opportunity presented by the council’s questioning of the dock plan should be put to good use by the Coal Dock Committee by abandoning the misguided idea of a curb—a concrete construct that would be only two feet high—and getting to work on a railing.     

     The faulty rationale for avoiding the obvious choice of a railing has been that it would somehow interfere with access to this deep-water dock by large vessels, including tall ships. Yet a railing and vessel access are not mutually exclusive. Docks serving large ships elsewhere have guard rails. Surely one can be designed for Port Washington that accommodates both ships and the need for a basic safety measure for park users, while being aesthetically acceptable as part of the waterfront park.                

    A  hazard any time of the year, the unprotected dock standing some 10 feet above current-laced harbor waters has been especially treacherous this winter when it was an ice-covered slide angled toward water.         

    If the debate over the dock safety issue were a court case, attorneys for the pro-railing side could find a powerful piece of evidence in a photo on the city’s own website. The picture shows a Port Washington Street Department employee working on the Coal Dock Park promenade. The edge of the dock is guarded by a temporary railing.

    If a guard rail was needed to keep strong, adult city employees safe while working on the dock in ideal weather, how can anyone argue that a permanent railing is not needed to keep children and careless adults from falling into the water?

 
Snowplowing for drivers and walkers PDF Print E-mail
News
Written by Ozaukee Press   
Wednesday, 05 March 2014 18:30

Officials understand taxpayers have no tolerance for shoddy snow removal; but no worries in Port, where even walkways are plowed with alacrity

When it comes to public services, taxpayers can be quite understanding.

    Seriously. We’re not kidding.


    Citizens generally understand that municipal budgets are strained and there is a limit to how much local governments can do to make their lives more comfortable.


    Now let us add a prominent asterisk to that statement. There’s an exception, and it’s a big one. Taxpayers are understanding about most municipal services, but not about snowplowing. Definitely not snowplowing.


    It’s hard enough to endure a brutal winter like this one without having to deal with streets and roads that are not cleared of snow and ice with reasonable speed. The public has zero tolerance for letting that happen.


    The attitude is universal, found anywhere in the U.S. where snow falls. Years ago Chicago voters famously ousted a mayor because city streets weren’t adequately plowed after a series of snowstorms. In February the new mayor of New York started his job under withering criticism for his inadequate response to a storm that all but paralyzed the city. The governor of Georgia may yet pay a political price for his spectacular failure in preparing for the winter storm three weeks ago that shut Atlanta down for two days. Across the snowy reaches of America, public officials are on notice that failure to keep roads free enough of snow and ice to allow reasonably safe travel is not an option.

    Officials around here obviously get that. From all reports, the Ozaukee County Highway Department and the public works departments of the cities and villages in the county are doing yeoman’s work dealing with snowfalls that seem to occur every three or four days.


    In the City of Port Washington, during the winter its snowplowing boss, Street Supt. Dave Ewig, ranks as the worst in his 37 years as a city employee, a force of up to 22 workers from the street and water departments starts plowing and salting streets at 2 a.m. after a nighttime snowfall. The early start is needed because more than 55 miles of streets have to be cleared for the morning traffic of school buses and workers heading for jobs.


    That’s pretty much the norm for other well managed communities too, but Port Washington stands apart from many of them for its snowplowing services that benefit walkers rather than car and truck drivers. Throughout this winter distinguished by the frigid air of the polar vortex and snow accumulating in small but maddeningly frequent increments that feel like the climatological equivalent of death by a thousand cuts, Port Washington’s public walkways have been cleared without fail by power sweepers, snowblowers and small plows.


    This is a significant benefit, because Port Washington is a walkers’ town. Besides standard sidewalks adjacent to private property (where snow removal is the owners’ responsibility), this city has mile after mile (no one knows exactly how many miles but it’s certainly in the double digits) of marvelous walkways that take people along a waterfront that is a magnificent sight even in winter, on the bike trail through the wooded ravine that is well populated by songbirds and (of course) deer the year around and through many parks, including the incomparable Rotary Park and Coal Dock Park at the harbor.


    For the many city residents who enjoy walking (or running or mountain bike riding), the work done by the staff of the Street Department and the Park and Recreation Department to keep walkways walkable amounts to an antidote for cabin fever.


    Sure it’s a rough winter, but in Port Washington that’s no excuse to forego outside exercise or the manifold visual pleasures of the lakefront, parks and bike trail, thanks to the snow removal crews that take as good care of pedestrians as they do of motorists.


 
The comprehensive answer to good schools PDF Print E-mail
News
Written by Ozaukee Press   
Wednesday, 26 February 2014 17:46

PW-S school leaders deserve credit for a well-rounded curriculum, but  maintaining it will take vigilance and an understanding that what makes it strong is the sum of its parts

When asked last week to list his top three educational priorities, a candidate for the Port Washington-Saukville School Board said math, science and engineering.
  
 He was hamstrung by the question, which deserves the opportunity for a more thorough answer.

    Math, science and engineering are a good start. Add to that list communications, social studies, foreign language, business, the arts and physical education.

    The Port Washington-Saukville School District has successfully maintained a comprehensive curriculum that produces well-rounded graduates prepared to contribute to society in any number of ways.

    That has been the priority of the School Board and administrators, and it should continue to be despite the financial and legislative challenges school officials will continue to face.

    It’s a goal that is challenging to achieve and even more difficult to maintain, as evidenced by school districts that have cut programs. For these school systems, there may be no going back to the days when students
had music, foreign language and technology-education classes to choose from, at least not in this day and age of public school funding in Wisconsin.

    Other districts are rethinking decisions to pare their offerings. Grafton High School, for instance, was in the process of phasing out German — half its foreign language curriculum, which also includes Spanish — when Supt. Mel Lightner was hired. He was correct when he told the School Board recently that an institution the size and caliber of Grafton High School should offer at least two foreign languages.

    In the Port Washington-Saukville School District, there have been changes. Antiquated and unpopular classes have been dropped. Contemporary offerings have been added, but a well-rounded curriculum has been
maintained. In fact, it has flourished.

    Music instruction, an area of education that seems most susceptible to budget cuts, has produced middle and high school bands and choirs that have won acclaim throughout the country and inspired careers in the field. Earlier this month, Port High’s vocal jazz ensemble Limited Edition qualified again for the premiere a cappella competition in the nation, a contest it won in 2010.

    The benefits of a well-rounded curriculum throughout the grade levels is most evident at the high school. Port High has long been considered a comprehensive high school, one that prepares its students for four-year colleges as well as vocational schools, apprenticeships and jobs.

    On one end of that spectrum, the school offers a battery of advanced-placement classes that challenge students with college-level work, allow them to earn college credits and put them on a level playing field with graduates of college-preparatory schools.

    On the other end is one of the school’s success stories — its technology education program. Once called shop classes, the tech-ed offerings now range from engineering to computer-aided design. A district that had the foresight and opportunity to join the Project Lead the Way program and has worked with area business leaders to bolster interest and instruction in the areas of science, technology, engineering and math has now added
biomedical engineering to its high school course book.

    The result is a new generation of future engineers and skilled tradespeople prepared to pursue their interests in college and join the workforce.

    A measure of the program’s success is that leaders of local manufacturing companies, faced with the reality that an entire generation of skilled tradespeople is nearing retirement age, are looking to Port High for future employees and making what they consider a wise investment in the form of time and money in the school’s technology-eduction department.

    Port Washington-Saukville School District leaders are in the enviable position of having a school system that meets the diverse needs and nurtures the varied interests of students. They deserve credit for that, but they’ve set the bar high. It will take determination and vigilance to maintain this balance in the face of inevitable challenges, and an understanding that the greatest strength of the Port Washington-Saukville School
District is not a single area of emphasis but rather the sum of its parts.

 
<< Start < Prev 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 Next > End >>

Page 55 of 131
advertisement
Banner
Banner