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Marina plan to take aim at parking concerns PDF Print E-mail
Community
Written by KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM   
Wednesday, 28 October 2015 19:23

Main Street committee creating lakefront district to provide more vehicle spaces, improve aesthetics

As Port Washington officials move ahead with a controversial plan to sell a city-owned waterfront parking lot, they are also working on plans to create a distinct marina district with an eye toward solving some of the parking issues that have been expressed.

The marina district plan, which is being created by Port Main Street Inc.’s Design Committee, is intended “to make the marina a special place, to enhance and embellish it,” said Randy Tetzlaff, the city’s director of planning and development.

Tetzlaff cited a recent study that showed boaters are seeking amenities when they dock, saying that’s something the city can build on to improve the marina.

While downtown is nearby, the aesthetics of the area can be improved with the district plan, he said.

“Right now, we have a massive parking lot they look at when they come in. We have the wall at the back of the Port Shopping Center,” Tetzlaff said.

Right now, the Design Committee has two marina district plans it is looking to merge into one. That plan would then be brought to the Harbor Commission and other interested groups for their input before being forwarded to the Common Council, he said.

Both plans create an entry to the marina and seek to make it a destination, Tetzlaff said.

But perhaps most important today, they also take into account the potential loss of trailer parking spots if the city sells a portion of the slip next to the former Victor’s restaurant, he said.  

At least a portion of that lot, which accommodates about 22 trailers, would be needed for any residential development on the site, something called for in the downtown redevelopment plan, Tetzlaff said.

“The redevelopment plan anticipated some encroachment,” he said. 

Although plans for the redevelopment of the Victor’s property haven’t been received by the city, Tetzlaff said officials want to be prepared.

The main way in which the plan deals with the need for more parking is to make many of the spaces in the marina parking lot north of Washington Street do double duty, Tetzlaff said.

These spaces would be designated for trailers in the morning hours, when fishermen need them, then be available for cars later in the day, when there’s a demand for those spaces, he said.

“They (Design Committee members) understand parking is important, but the parking has to be dual purpose,” Tetzlaff said. “You can’t have all that empty for seven or eight months.”

There would still be a loss of some spaces from the north slip parking lot, which could be sold to accommodate the development of The Blues Factory, a Paramount blues-related entertainment complex, Tetzlaff said, but the committee is continuing to try and address that.

“We’re trying to have no net loss or gain,” Tetzlaff said.

The loss of trailer stalls was one expressed by the Harbor Commission earlier this month. 

To ensure the marina district plan addresses the commission’s concerns, Tetzlaff said, it will work with Lisa Rathke, the assistant harbormaster.

“We definitely want to hear their concerns and address them,” he said. “That’s vital.”

 
Second teen charged in Port gun theft investigation PDF Print E-mail
Community
Written by BILL SCHANEN IV   
Wednesday, 21 October 2015 21:51

But .44 magnum revolver allegedly stolen by PWHS student remains missing

Police investigating the theft of a handgun that resulted in a Port Washington High School student being charged with a felony last week have arrested a second teenager but continue to search for the weapon — a Ruger .44 magnum revolver. 

Joshua R. Schires, 18, a former Port High student who now lives in the Madison area, was charged Monday with having possession of the stolen gun, a felony punishable by a maximum three years in prison and three years of extended supervision.

Schires also faces a misdemeanor charge of obstructing an officer for allegedly lying to police.

Last week, 17-year-old Dakota Manske, a Port High senior, was charged with stealing the gun from a house across from the high school in July. 

Manske was stopped by police on his way to school Monday, Oct. 12, and subsequently arrested after police received several tips about the gun. 

People interviewed by police, many of them Manske’s peers, said the Port Washington teenager kept the powerful handgun under the spare tire in the trunk of his car and showed it to them in a city parking lot that is next to the school and used as a student parking area during the school day, authorities said. Witnesses also told police Manske showed the gun to them in the parking lot of Culver’s restaurant in Port three or four weeks ago.

Manske’s arrest and the fact the gun remains missing triggered concerns among the parents of Port High students last week, some of whom kept their children home from school on Tuesday, Oct. 13. Authorities said there was no indication Manske intended to harm anyone with the gun.

Manske and Schires each posted $500 bail and have been released from the Ozaukee County jail.

Schires’ arrest sheds some light on the case, but Port Washington Police Chief Kevin Hingiss said this week that the investigation and search for the gun continue to be complicated by misinformation.

“There have been a lot of twists and turns in this investigation,” Hingiss said. “It would be a lot easier if people would tell us the truth.

“We’re still hoping somebody will come forward and tell us where the gun is.”

According to the criminal complaint filed in Ozaukee County Circuit Court, Schires was in Port Washington at the beginning of October for Port High’s homecoming and was given the gun by Manske in the Arby’s restaurant parking lot on the north side of the city.

Schires told police that he took the gun to his Madison-area home and kept it there for about a week until Manske came to retrieve it, the complaint states.

But, Hingiss said Tuesday, Schires changed his story and now contends Manske did not drive to the Madison area to retrieve the gun. Instead, Schires claims he showed the gun to a black man who took it from him in the Maple Bluff suburb of Madison, Hingiss said.

Schires told police that he reported to Maple Bluff authorities that the stolen gun in his possession was taken from him, but Port police have been unable to confirm that, Hingiss said. 

“We believe Joshua Schires knows more than he’s telling us,” he said.

Schires’ version of events conflicts with statements from Manske, who according to the criminal complaint admitted taking the gun and ammunition from a house at 404 W. Jackson St. and keeping it in the trunk of his car, which was secured by a bungee cord.

But Manske told police he discovered the gun was missing from the trunk of his car on Oct. 9 and had no idea who took it, the complaint states.

Hingiss said police have obtained the serial number of the gun, which could help police track down the weapon if it is turned in or confiscated outside of Port Washington.

According to the rough description police have, the gun is a silver-colored Ruger .44 magnum revolver with a wooden handle.

Manske faces one felony count of theft of a gun, which is punishable by a maximum three years in prison and three years of extended supervision, and a misdemeanor charge of possession of a dangerous weapon by a person younger than 18, punishable by a maximum nine months in jail. He’s scheduled to appear in court again on Oct. 28.

Schires was released from jail Monday and ordered by Ozaukee County Circuit Judge Joseph Voiland not to possess firearms or have contact with Manske while free on bail.

He is scheduled to appear in court for a preliminary hearing on Nov. 5.

Police are asking people with information about the gun theft or the location of the weapon to contact them at 284-5575 or anonymously by texting to 847411, keyword PWPDTIP.

 
High-tech high school to include aquaponics lab PDF Print E-mail
Community
Written by BILL SCHANEN IV   
Wednesday, 14 October 2015 19:49

Centerpiece of freshwater science program will be among features showcased in $45.6 million Port High

School district officials working to design a state-of-the-art school announced Monday that the new Port Washington High School will feature an aquaponics lab as the centerpiece of a freshwater science program that has already attracted the attention of college professors.

The concept of an aquaponics lab was born of suggestions made at community planning meetings and is one of several features of the $45.6 million project presented to the Port Washington-Saukville School Board Monday.

“One of the things we heard in the community meetings is that we need to take better advantage of our proximity to the lake,” Port High Principal Eric Burke said. “This will be a very unique feature of our school.”

The lab, which will be part of a new three-story academic wing built on the west side of the school, will be open to a main hallway — part of an effort to showcase the school’s innovative academic features.

“It will be in an open space that can be seen and touched,” Burke said. 

Aquaponics combines aquaculture (the raising of fish) with hydroponics (the growing of plants without soil) in a symbiotic environment in which fish provide an organic food source for plants that in turn filter the water.

Although not large, Port High’s aquaponics lab will be capable of producing 1,000 pounds of fish and plants every year, Burke said. 

Supt. Michael Weber said the lab was inspired by Port Washington’s proximity to the largest surface freshwater system on earth and recent community efforts to embrace the city’s location on Lake Michigan, among them an interactive downtown museum, regular visits from Discovery World’s Milwaukee-based tall ship and a sprawling lakefront nature preserve planned for the south side of the city.

“The work the community has been doing with the Exploreum, the Denis Sullivan and a preserve along the shore reminded us of the importance of learning about the lake,” Weber said. “We’re sitting on this large body of freshwater, and I think sometimes we take that for granted.

“An aquaponics lab and our freshwater science program will allow our students to learn about the lake and how to protect it.”

Chris Surfus, the district’s director of curriculum, said plans for the lab have already attracted the attention of educators at Concordia University Wisconsin in Mequon.

“They are very interested in our freshwater program,” she said. “They’re interested in sharing staff.”

Like the school’s Project Lead the Way facilities, which will include a classroom with glass walls to showcase the program, the aquaponics facility and focus on freshwater science is a reflection of the district’s desire not just to renovate an aging high school but create what will be an essentially new, cutting-edge academic facility on the site of the current school designed to educate generations of students.

“This project has to have a vision for the future,” Burke said, noting that a team of administrators and teachers have toured several new and remodeled schools around the state to glean ideas for an ideal high school. 

“Parts of the current building are close to 100 years old. They have served their purpose. Now we have to design a building that will serve our purposes well into the future.”

In addition to a new academic wing, which will concentrate classrooms currently spread throughout the sprawling school in the north end of the building, the project will include the demolition of the oldest part of the school. 

In its place, a new main entrance will be built that leads into a two-level commons and open cafeteria with large windows facing west.

Also in the new part of the school will be spacious band and choir rooms adjacent to the auditorium, which will undergo major renovations to include new seating as well as light and sound systems.

A new athletic building constructed on the south side of the school will house a large gym and other athletic facilities, including a fitness room with large windows facing southwest.

The current gym will be retained and used as an auxiliary athletic facility.

Bray Architects is finalizing designs while C.D. Smith, the construction management firm hired to oversee the project, is conducting a cost analysis to ensure the project is within budget, administrators said. 

Initial soil borings indicate that the new sections of the school will be able to be built into the hillsides on the west and south sides of the school as planned, Director of Business Services Jim Froemming said.

“The six initial borings done of the bluff show good soil with a clay base and no rock, which is good,” he said. 

Froemming said 36 more soil borings need to be done and an archeological study will be conducted to ensure construction crews don’t dig up any surprises during the project. 

The district plans to seek bids for the project in March and start construction as soon as the weather allows in spring. 

Work will begin with the construction of the academic wing and kitchen facilities. When those are completed, students and teachers will move into the classrooms and demolition of the oldest part of the school, slated for 2017, will begin. The current gym will be used as a cafeteria during this phase of the work.

The project is expected to be completed by the beginning of the 2019-20 school year.

Also included in the $49.4 million school improvement plan approved by voters in April is a $3.8 million, 13,000-square-foot addition to Dunwiddie Elementary School.

That work is scheduled to begin in spring with the construction of a new parking lot. Work on the addition to the front of the school, which will include needed classrooms, will begin as soon as the new lot is roughed in and is expected to be completed by the end of 2016.

 
Petition can’t force referendum on parking lot PDF Print E-mail
Community
Written by KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM   
Wednesday, 07 October 2015 20:12

Opponents of proposed sale of parcel had enough signatures but request won’t prevent city from negotiating with Blues Factory developer

A petition seeking a referendum to determine whether the City of Port Washington should sell a waterfront parking lot for development has enough valid signatures to force a vote, but the document is deficient in other ways, City Attorney Eric Eberhardt told the Common Council Tuesday.

The end result, Eberhardt said, is that the petition doesn’t meet the requirements for direct legislation and the city doesn’t need to hold a binding referendum on the matter.

“The number of signatures would have been sufficient but the forms were insufficient,” he said.

The sale of the city-owned parking lot near the north-slip marina has been controversial, with opponents arguing that public lakefront land should not be sold and proponents saying that the sale of a small parcel for a development that could benefit the entire city is appropriate, given that there are several miles of public lakefront property in Port.

The city has authorized negotiating the sale of the lot to Madison-based developer Christopher Long, who plans to create a Paramount blues-themed entertainment complex there.

Pat Wilborn, who was one of the organizers of the petition drive, submitted documents to correct some deficiencies on Sept. 24, as well as nine additional petitions with signatures, Eberhardt said.

After review by City Clerk Susan Westerbeke, he said, it was determined that the petitions were signed by a total of 829 “countable” signatures, those that met the requirements of state law — seven more than needed to compel the Common Council to retain the lot or hold a binding referendum on the issue.

But there are other deficiencies, the most glaring of which is the lack of a proposed resolution or ordinance to be adopted by the Common Council, Eberhardt said, adding the deadline for corrections has passed.

Eberhardt noted that the documents submitted by Wilborn, an opponent of the parking lot sale, did not clearly state whether he was seeking direct legislation or an advisory referendum. 

Wilborn declined to sign a document that would have clearly outlined his intent, Eberhardt said.

Wilborn said in an interview that the petitions were intended “to deliver a message from 900 residents that we don’t want the city to sell the parking lot.”

His group will continue to try and deliver their message, Wilborn said. He plans to distribute more than 100 more yard signs expressing opposition to the parking lot sale at Saturday’s farmers market and is considering erecting a billboard.

The group will discuss its strategy at 6 p.m. Monday, Oct. 12, at NewPort Shores, he said.

Even as Wilborn’s group moves ahead with its opposition, Long is moving ahead with his plans.

Negotiations with the city are expected to begin next week, Long said, and he is meeting with potential investors.

He’s also working on an equity crowdfunding campaign that will offer small investors an opportunity to buy into the Blues Factory.

In addition, Long said, he’s met with restaurateurs interested in operating a restaurant in the building and non-profit organizations that could operate a museum and cultural center there.

Long held a two-hour public informational meeting last week attended by about a dozen residents. Parking was again a major concern expressed, he said, especially when the Blues Factory would be constructed next year.

That’s the same time Port Harbour Lights, a condominium and retail complex on Franklin Street, is expected to be built.

“That’s a very legitimate concern,” Long said. “It will have to be addressed during the permitting process.”

Chad Biersach, president of the Port Washington Charter Captains Association, said parking is always an issue for the group.

“We realize it’s good for the city to have more of that (development), but it’s hard for us,” he said. “We have to be involved in the process.”

But Biersach said he was encouraged by Long and city officials at last week’s meeting, who said they are working to alleviate his group’s concerns.


Image information: 

SIGNS ASKING Port Washington officials not to sell a city-owned lakefront parking lot have been popping up around the community, and opponents of a potential sale are planning to distribute more of the placards this weekend.                                          Photo by Bill Schanen IV

 
Port police crack down on scofflaw park fishermen PDF Print E-mail
Community
Written by KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM   
Wednesday, 30 September 2015 20:00

Out-of-town anglers catching tickets for fouling  public lakefront land 

Port Washington Parks and Recreation foreman Bob Poull was cutting the lawn near the city’s fish cleaning station across from Coal Dock Park recently when he smelled something rank.


When he looked around, he found a couple fish near some bushes, Parks and Recreation Director Charlie Imig said. Poull cleaned up the fish, but the smell remained.


When he looked closer, he discovered roughly 50 fish, the roe stripped from their decaying bodies, in the bushes.


While that may be an extreme case, it’s not the only case of fishermen — many of them from out of the area — fouling the park, Imig said. 


“It’s just disturbing. They’ll slit the necks (of fish) and let them bleed out on the sidewalks,” he said. “They’ll fillet them on the benches. They leave their gear on the sidewalk.


“They just have no regard for people walking through the park. It doesn’t make the park a friendly place for residents or visitors or anyone. It’s horrible.”


In response to complaints like these, the Port Washington Police Department is stepping up enforcement along the lakefront, targeting those who are ruining the area for others.


“We’re trying to just clamp down as much as possible,” Police Chief Kevin Hingiss said. “We are strictly enforcing the laws that are in place.”


That means preventing people from entering the park outside of the official hours of 6 a.m. to 11 p.m., he said, and ticketing those who leave carcasses behind.


“The big one we’ve been applying is curfew violations,” Hingiss said. “There have been fishermen going in there all night or very early in the morning.”


So far this month, officers have issued roughly seven tickets and referred other cases to the Department of Natural Resources for citations, he said.


“These are just the ones we’ve caught,” Hingiss noted. “We’re shorthanded, but we’re doing the best we can.”


The people who have been ticketed by the department so far have one thing in common, Hingiss noted — they don’t live in the area.


“All the violators so far have been people living south of here,” he said. Most are from Illinois, some from Kenosha and Racine.


Just as it did last year, the department is working with DNR Warden Tony Young to patrol the fishermen, Hingiss said.


Young said that last fall, he issued between 50 and 60 citations in October.


“Two a day on average is a ton for me,” he said.


Many of the citations are for fishing violations — snagging fish, keeping a foul hooked fish and violations of fishing hours, he said. After Sept. 15, fishermen on the tributaries of Lake Michigan are only allowed to fish 30 minutes before sunrise or later and 30 minutes after sunset or earlier.


He also deals with littering, something Young said he abhors. 


“It’s a problem, and it’s hard to enforce because it’s a lot of little stuff. It adds up and it gives fishermen a bad name,” he said, noting fishermen leave behind small spawn sacks, mesh netting, fishing line, papers and cigarette butts that give the parks a messy appearance.


Young said he also deals with quarrels between fishermen who feel others are encroaching on their space.


“There’s no right you have to be five feet from the next fisherman,” he said. “People fight and say, ‘Give me my spot.’ We’ve had disorderly complaints going to Port police over that.”


The small stuff, such as littering, is the biggest problem, Young said, although the large problems such as carcasses left behind are more visible to the public.


Young noted that the season for complaints is really just now heating up, adding it runs through spring and is worse when there is a significant amount of rain to spur a run of fish.


Hingiss concurred, saying the problems caused by fishermen are generally chronic and seasonal, peaking when the salmon spawn in fall. Most of those violating the laws aren’t after the fish as much as the roe they carry, he said.


“I’ve been told there’s a big market for it in Chicago and Illinois,” Hingiss said. “But if that’s all they (the fishermen) are here for, we’d rather they went someplace else.”


The department doesn’t have a problem with fishermen using the park, he stressed.


“They can fish here as long as they obey the law,” he said.


Young said, “I’m pro-fishermen. I want fishing to thrive in the city. But this makes all fishermen look bad.


“There’s a big group of fishermen and women who obey the rules and leave the area cleaner than when they come.”


But the small group of violators make everyone look bad, Young said.


The violators, Hingiss said, are causing big problems for the city.


“Look at all the money the city has spent on the park. People want to enjoy it, and there are fish carcasses everywhere you want to walk. You can see where people have gutted the fish on the sidewalk and boardwalk. 


“It’s a big problem.”


 
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