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Port Washington

Longtime Port parks director to step down next month PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 18 October 2017 18:00

Imig leaving 10-year job to become public works director in Glendale

    Port Washington Parks and Recreation Director Charlie Imig has resigned effective Nov. 8.
    Imig, who has been the parks and recreation director for the past 10 years, will begin his new job as director of public works for the City of Glendale less than a week later, on Monday, Nov. 13.
    “It’s a good opportunity,” Imig said. “I’m proud of my time here. I love it here. My philosophy is you leave a place better than it was when you found it, and I think I can say I did that.”
    Imig said he is proud of the many parks the city has added during his tenure, a list that includes Coal Dock Park and South Beach as well as numerous neighborhood parks.
    He’s also proud of the programs he’s been involved in, such as the community beer gardens, breakwater improvements and the Polar Express, a joint effort with the Grafton and Cedarburg recreation departments that he championed.
    It’s an idea he copied from his previous job, Imig said.
    “I thought why can’t we do it here?” he said.
    Innovative programs like that have set Imig apart from other directors, said Ron Voigt, a longtime Parks and Recreation board member.
    “He’s been very creative in the program designs, and he’s very good in coordinating with the parks and recreation departments in Cedarburg and Grafton on programs we can do together,” Voigt said, citing not only the Polar Express but also the pool superpass program.
    Imig, he said, has also made the city’s resources stretch to encompass more programs, and he’s provided the type of atmosphere in which new programs can flourish.
    Imig said he’s also proud of the many people, young and old, he’s met through recreation programs and hired as staff.
    “That’s what makes Port great, all these different connections with families and people,” he said, noting more than 100 teens are hired by the department each summer. Many come back year after year, and they keep in touch even after leaving.
    “That’s the kind of stuff where I feel like I did make a difference,” Imig said.
    But, Imig said, he hasn’t done it alone. He credited his assistants, such as Diana Verheyen, with helping him through the years.

Port High scores the hottest tickets on the planet PDF Print E-mail
Written by BILL SCHANEN IV   
Wednesday, 11 October 2017 18:39

Thanks to teacher’s connections, 58 students, teachers will see ‘Hamilton’

  If you want to see “Hamilton,” be prepared to shell out hundreds, even thousands of dollars for a ticket to the hottest musical to hit Broadway in decades.
    That is, unless you attend Port Washington High School. Fifty music students plus eight teachers will have the opportunity to buy tickets to see the acclaimed hip-hop musical about American founding father Alexander Hamilton at the CICB Theater in Chicago — a Feb. 14 trip approved by the Port Washington-Saukville School Board Monday.
    The ticket price — $109 with taxes and fees included — is less than half the cost of the cheapest seat normally available in Chicago.
    So how did Port Washington High School score 58 of what Rolling Stone Magazine last year called “the toughest ticket on the planet”? Like a lot of things in the performance world, it had a lot to do with who you know, specifically who Port High Choral Director Dennis Gephart knows.
    “I have a travel agent friend and one day I told her, ‘If you ever have an opportunity to get “Hamilton” tickets, let me know,’” said Gephart, who has taken students on tours throughout the country and overseas. “She laughed at me and said, ‘You’re never going to get student prices for that show.’”
    But in July, the agent called Gephart and told him that she heard through the grapevine that a limited number of student tickets for Chicago performances would be going on sale and asked if he was interested. After clearing it with Supt. Michael Weber, Gephart told her to snatch up as many tickets as she could.
    “She talked to her contact and was told, ‘But no one even knows about this yet,’” Gephart said. “She said, ‘But I do.’”
    Last month, Gephart found out that 58 tickets had been reserved for Port Washington High School.
    “Sixty is the most any school can get, and there are lot of schools who are going to get a lot fewer if they get any,” he said.
    “This is one of the greatest musicals of all time, and getting a chance to see it will be one of those things students remember their entire lives.
    “We’re trying to inspire kids and prepare them for all the different careers involved in musicals like ‘Hamilton.’”
    Gephart didn’t have to ask twice for School Board permission to take students to Chicago for the show.
    “That our students have the opportunity to see ‘Hamilton’ is unbelievable,” School Board member Sara McCutcheon said. “I’m jealous.”
    Weber said, “I think it’s really wonderful to extend this opportunity to our students.”
    It comes as no surprise that finding chaperones doesn’t look like it will be a problem. Gephart said social studies and communications teachers will be given the opportunity to supervise the trip. And, of course, he wouldn’t miss the chance to see the groundbreaking musical.  
    “I’m excited too,” he said. “I was so pumped up when I heard we got the tickets.”

Port does its part for Cedar Vineyard project PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 04 October 2017 18:05

Council inks agreement with developer who says purchase is imminent despite bank’s marketing of land

    Port Washington officials on Tuesday moved the proposed Cedar Vineyard subdivision one step closer to reality by approving a developer’s agreement for the project.
    Developer Tom Swarthout of the Highview Group told aldermen that he’s nearing a deal to purchase the 240-acre parcel along Highway C, which is owned by Waukesha State Bank and as recently as last month was listed for sale.
    “We are at that endpoint,” Swarthout said. “There are nine attorneys working on this closing.”
    Swarthout, who said he’s been working on the proposal for 3-1/2 years, called it a “revolutionary” project with a plethora of green features, public access to the bluff and beach and a plan to create a publicly owned 101-acre nature preserve.
    The development would be built in three phases, Swarthout said. The 72 lots on the east side of Highway C would be built in two phases, while the third phase will include 10 lots on the west side of the road near a winery that will be built using an old barn.
    A vineyard would line the highway, creating a more rural feeling than a typical city development.
    Even the landscaping plan is unique, Swarthout said, noting many of the trees to be planted will be fruit trees clustered together rather than spread throughout the development.
    The developer’s agreement calls for the city to extend utility services from their current location on Division Street south to the development, City Administrator Mark Grams said.
    It also calls for the city to construct improvements on Highway C, including a bike path, and to build a parking lot on the west side of the highway that will be used by people visiting the winery as well as those using public paths and visiting the nature preserve, he said.
    While the parking lot will be built by the city, it will be the responsibility of the property owner to maintain the lot, he added.
    There will be restrooms in the winery that can be used by the public, Grams added.
    Streets and utilities within the subdivision will be paid for by the developer, the agreement states.
    The agreement also calls for the city to pay for one of two lift stations that will help service any developments to the south of Cedar Vineyard, he said.
    Ald. John Sigwart questioned the wisdom of having the homeowner’s association be responsible to maintain the second lift station.
    “Half the time our homeowners’ associations can’t maintain themselves,” he said.
    However, City Attorney Eric Eberhardt noted that the burden of maintaining the facility will fall not on the association but on the homeowners themselves.
    The city’s improvements, which total about $6 million, will be paid through its tax incremental financing district, Grams said, noting that a financial analysis has proven the development will cover the costs of the improvements.
    Ozaukee County, which will ultimately own the nature preserve within the development, has already signed off on the agreement, Swarthout said.

Subdivision to grow with addition of houses, condos PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 27 September 2017 18:57

Port commission OKs expansion of Hidden Hills

  The Hidden Hills subdivision on Port Washington’s west side is about to get larger.
    A concept plan to extend the subdivision, which is north of Highway 33, to the north was approved by the Plan Commission last week.
    The plan calls for 26 single-family houses and seven duplex condominium buildings — a total of 14 units — to be constructed on the 25.5-acre site. In addition, one almost two-acre “estate lot” would be created.
    The plan by Bielinski Homes is similar to one proposed by the firm and approved by the city in 2007, said Randy Tetzlaff, the city’s director of planning and development.
    That plan, however, called for two more single-family homes, he said.
    “The streets are a little curvier (now) and the lots are a little larger,” Tetzlaff said.
    In addition, he said, the wetlands in the development have also increased in size.
    The older plan did generate some concern about the size of the lots, Tetzlaff said.
    “I think this plan solves some of the past concerns,” he said.
    Bielinski’s lot is bordered by Green Bay Road and Town of Port property on the north, Tetzlaff said, and the proposal aligns with the town’s plan for that area.
    The larger lots would allow Bielinski to build some houses with side-loading garages instead of front-loading ones, John Donovan, acquisitions and development manager for Bielinski, said.
    He said the firm is looking at whether to build a house on the estate lot or sell it.
    While the property is a large rectangle on the northwest side of the current Hidden Hills subdivision, Donovan noted there is a parcel on Green Bay Road that is privately owned. The firm asked the owner if they were interested in selling, he said, but that’s not likely to occur.
    Bielinski will need to get permission from the Department of Natural Resources to build a road into the south side of the subdivision — from the existing Hidden Hills subdivision — that would cross a wetland, Donovan said.
    The company is ready to begin work on Hidden Hills North, he added.
    The Hidden Hills subdivision was recently the center of debate as officials considered and ultimately approved a senior housing development off Highway 33.

Council names Ehrlich president, plans to appoint alderman PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 20 September 2017 19:01

Port officials pick longtime alderman as leader, decide to fill vacancy five months before election

    As the makeup of the Port Washington Common Council continues to change, aldermen on Tuesday unanimously elected longtime Ald. Mike Ehrlich as council president, succeeding former Ald. Doug Biggs, and set in place a process to replace Biggs, whose resignation was effective Sept. 15.
    The council has undergone significant changes since two longtime aldermen were ousted in a spring election held in the wake of controversy over development in the city — particularly the Blues Factory and other lakefront developments — and a third aldermen stepped down.
    “I’ve got big shoes to fill between Ald. Biggs and Ald. Becker,” Ehrlich said, referring to former Ald., Dan Becker, who was the council president before Biggs. “Thank you very much.”
    Ehrlich, who has represented the city’s 1st District since 2009, was the only candidate nominated for council president. He was unanimously elected.
    There was no debate over Ehrlich’s nomination, but there was some debate over the process used to elect him.
    Ald. Dave Larson moved to use a voice vote to elect the president, but Ald. Mike Gasper suggested that aldermen only use that if one person was nominated for the post. If there was more than one candidate, Gasper said, it would make more sense to elect the president via ballots.
    That sort of mixed process is not allowed under Robert’s Rules of Order, City Attorney Eric Eberhardt said.
    Aldermen also agreed to accept applications from residents of the 4th District on the city’s south side to fill the spot left vacant by Biggs’ resignation.
    Applicants must be 18 years or older,  be a U.S. citizen who lives in the district and have no criminal convictions regarding a violation of the public trust, City Administrator Mark Grams said.
        Applicants must submit a cover letter and resume, he said.
    An advertisement for candidates will be run in Ozaukee Press on Sept. 21 and 28, and applications will be accepted through 5 p.m. Oct. 20, aldermen agreed. Those applying will be interviewed by the Common Council on Nov. 7, and the new alderman could be appointed that night.
    There’s always a risk that no one will apply for the seat or that the council does not find any applicant suitable for the spot, Ald. Dave Larson said.
    Gasper suggested the council set an earlier deadline and appointment date, otherwise it is almost time for people who want to run in the spring election, when Biggs’ seat is up, can begin circulating nomination papers.
    “I don’t want to be in a position where we’re appointing an incumbent who is likely to get elected in spring,” he said.
    Moving the deadline up will give potential candidates little time to apply, aldermen said.
    It’s important that the council appoint a new alderman, Ehrlich said.
    “I think we owe it to that district to get some representation for them,” he said.
    Noting that the city doesn’t have a policy for replacing an alderman who resigns, Gasper suggested the city consider setting a firm process. That could be done as the city continues its recodification process, Mayor Tom Mlada said.

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