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Port Washington


Assessments for Hwy. 33 work spark complaints PDF Print E-mail
Community
Written by KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM   
Wednesday, 05 October 2011 18:31

Property owners protest city plan to have them pay part of road improvement costs

Property owners along Highway 33 on Tuesday asked the Port Washington Common Council to reconsider plans to assess them for a portion of the cost of rebuilding the road, saying the work benefits the community more than it does them.

“What do I need with fancy lights? What do I need with a median? It doesn’t change the sales I have at Stevlin’s,” asked Steve Boyea, who faces estimated assessments of $7,000 on his home and $21,600 on the neighboring hardware store that he owns with his sister Linda.

“Where the hell am I going to come up with $22,000? I wish you would reconsider it. I don’t feel it’s a fair assessment.”

Attorney Tim Voeller, general counsel for Bielinski Homes, reminded aldermen that special assessments need to be for things that provide a specific benefit to the property owner, not a community benefit.

Bielinski Homes faces an estimated $16,257 special assessment for the Highway 33 project, while Bielinski Commercial LLC, which owns the shopping center property in the Hidden Hills subdivision, is expected to pay almost $27,000 in special assessments.

The exact amount of the assessments won’t be known until after the Highway 33 project is completed next year, officials said.

The projected assessments range from $158 for a residential property in the City of Port to $65,580 for land owned by Ozaukee County. The assessments may be paid over five years at an interest rate of about 3%, officials said.

The largest assessments are for properties in the Town of Port Washington, including Boyea. Because of that, the charges won’t be collected until the properties are annexed into the city.

The assessments are calculated based on frontage along Highways 33 and LL and cover a portion of the cost of improvements, including street construction, curb, gutter and sidewalk.

In areas where there are existing concrete curbs and improved streets, there is no assessments for this work, Port Washington Public Works Director Rob Vanden Noven said.

The assessments do not include funds for the ornamental lights or landscaping in the median, he added.

Vanden Noven said the city policy is to assess for improvements when rural roads are converted into urban streets. Property owners in existing city subdivisions paid for their streets and sidewalks when their homes were built, he said. 

The city has been consistent in applying this policy, City Administrator Mark Grams said, noting it was followed when South Spring Street was improved 10 years ago and when Highway LL was rebuilt east of Wisconsin Street on the city’s north side.

But Boyea argued that the city could have opted to build a simple five-lane road — four lanes with a center turn lane — but instead chose to create a larger highway with a median and ornamental lighting to create a gateway to the community. 

“If that’s the case, Port Washington should bear the brunt of this and pay the cost,” he said. “The real benefit is to the communities, Port Washington and Saukville.”

The Village of Saukville is not assessing property owners for the Highway 33 project. 

However, Vanden Noven said there was no design that would have eliminated the city’s cost for the road project, and thus the special assessments.

Highway 33 property owners are not paying the full 25% of the city’s cost for both lanes going in front of their land, he added. Instead, their assessments are based on one traffic lane.

Boyea argued the road improvements aren’t benefitting his property, but are instead causing the value to decrease.

Even if he isn’t forced to pay the assessment now, the charge will hamper his ability to sell his property in the future, Boyea said, noting the buyer will have to factor the payment into the price.

Although the council held the public hearing now, the assessments won’t be finalized until the Highway 33 project is completed next year, officials said.

 
City plans host of street projects in 2013 PDF Print E-mail
Community
Written by KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM   
Wednesday, 28 September 2011 18:35

Although the City of Port Washington won’t undertake any new street projects next year, it is already planning for work in 2013.

The Board of Public Works on Tuesday agreed to apply for a $41,500 Department of Transportation local road improvement grant that would be used to resurface Cedar drive, court and circle on the west side of the city.

The grant would require a city match,  bringing the total available for the project to $83,000, Public Works Director Rob Vanden Noven said, noting that the total project cost is estimate at $195,200.

Officials have said they are willing to borrow to fund road projects again in 2013, Vanden Noven said.

The board reviewed the city’s five-year street plan, which must be submitted with the grant application.

The plan calls for the city to resurface a number of streets in 2013 at an estimated cost of $700,000.

They include Washington Street between Milwaukee and Wisconsin streets, Terrace Drive south of Woodview Circle, Oak, Sumac, Elm and Willow courts, Sauk Drive from Pierre Lane to the end, Parkway Drive from Norport Drive to the dead end and from Jacque Lane to Parknoll Drive and Westport Drive from Cedar to Portview and south of Second Avenue.

Vanden Noven said he selected Cedar for the grant funding because it came closest to meeting the $83,000 in grant and matching funds.

But Ald. Jim Vollmar questioned the methodology, saying the city should first look at fixing major streets that need work, then at secondary road and only after that at neighborhood roads “that are just serving a few homes.”

Cedar is basically a neighborhood road, he said, while other streets in the city are in worse shape and handle more cars each day.

But Vanden Noven said those streets require reconstruction, a more costly project than the resurfacing that’s envisioned in 2013.

“To make the funding go as far as possible, the city will be resurfacing a number of roads in 2013,” he said.

Because many of the streets that will be resurfaced in 2013 are in the Westport Meadows subdivision, the city will also realize economies of scale when doing this work, Vanden Noven added.

“Even though they’re not well traveled, they’re in horrible shape,” he said. “We can knock out all of Westport Meadows with this one project.”

The five-year street plan calls for the city to reconstruct three roads at a cost of $800,000 in 2014, including Holden Street from Orchard to Jackson streets, Jackson Street from Holden to Webster streets and Van Buren Street from Holden to Wisconsin Street.

In 2015, the plan is to reconstruction Larabee Street, Crocker Street and Lincoln Street from Summit Drive to Spring Street.

Milwaukee Street would be rebuilt from Jackson to Walters streets and Harrison Street would be reconstructed from Van Buren to Walters street in 2016 for $900,000, according to the plan.

In 2017, the plan calls for spending $1.3 million to reconstruct Milwaukee Street from Grand Avenue to Sauk Creek; Antoine Drive from Lakeview to Husting Street; Keeney Avenue from Oakland Avenue to its end; Montgomery Street from Walters to Dodge street; Norport Drive from Frances to Holden; Whitefish Road from Hales Trail to Lakeview Street; Oakland Avenue from North Spring to Park Street; and Prospect Street from Wisconsin Street to its end.

The board also agreed to apply for a $10,000 forestry grant to help plant parkway trees next year.

While the city will undoubtedly receive the local road improvement grant, “the likelihood of our getting this (forestry) grant is not that great,” Vanden Noven told the board.

But because the application will tie the planting of these trees to the city’s emerald ash borer preparedness plan, a priority for the grant, he said there is a chance the city will receive it.

The city currently budgets $5,000 to buy about 100 bare-root trees each year, placing these in areas where there are gaps in the plantings, Vanden Noven said.

This money, plus the cost of planting the trees, would be the match for the grant, if it’s received, he said.

“We’re trying to fill all the gaps we have in our street trees so when the emerald ash borer arrives and we have to cut down all these (ash) trees, it won’t be bare,” Vanden Noven said. “Obviously, we’re hoping it comes later rather than sooner so we don’t have as many gaps.”

 
Suspect in Port burglaries arrested PDF Print E-mail
Community
Written by KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM   
Wednesday, 21 September 2011 22:15

Milwaukee man in jail as police seek charges for July crimes at businesses


Port Washington police on Monday arrested a 20-year-old Milwaukee man in connection with two burglaries in the city in July.

Police are asking the district attorney’s office to charge the man with two counts of burglary and one count of bail jumping, Chief Richard Thomas said.

The man, who is in custody in the Ozaukee County jail, was identified after police were able to obtain a fingerprint from a piece of broken glass at the scene of the burglaries, Thomas said.

The print was matched to the suspect by the state’s fingerprint data base, he said — the first time the database has been used by the department to solve the burglary of a business.

The July 23 burglaries were at Oh Zone! hair salon, 480 W. Grand Ave., and Homeward Bound Tattoo, 484 W. Grand Ave.

Thomas credited the work of officers Matt Keller and Craig Czarnecki, who processed the burglary scenes, and Eric Schmeling, who conducted follow-up work, with solving the crimes.

Thomas noted that the crime illustrates a growing trend in the area.

“The fact that this evidence led us to a suspect from Milwaukee shows that criminals are much more transient than they were years ago,” he said.

“Crime is not as local as it used to be, which doesn’t make our job any easier.”

In other police news:

Officers were called to Westport Meadows Park at 5 p.m. Sept. 16 after receiving a report of juveniles trying to set a fire under the trees. When they arrived, they found a 15-year-old Port boy. He was cited for setting an open fire, police said.

About 8:45 a.m. Sept. 15, police received a report from Port Washington High School of a teen who was intoxicated.

The 15-year-old Saukville boy was cited for underage consumption of alcohol and possession of tobacco and was referred to juvenile authorities on charges of disorderly conduct, resisting or obstructing an officer and escape, police said.

A 57-year-old Port Washington man who called 911 about 2:25 p.m. Sept. 12 looking for the police department’s non-emergency number was warned for misuse of the emergency line.

The man, who was found to be intoxicated, was calling to report vehicles speeding past his home on Norport Drive, police said. No vehicles were observed speeding when officers arrived.

 
Candidates list for police chief pared by panel PDF Print E-mail
Community
Written by KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM   
Wednesday, 14 September 2011 21:30

The Port Washington Police and Fire Commission on Monday trimmed the list of 29 candidates for police chief almost in half, Chairman Rick Nelson said.

In doing this, the commission accepted without change the recommendation of a committee of five area police chiefs who reviewed the applications and initially narrowed the list of potential candidates.

Brown Deer Police Chief Steve Rinzel, head of the panel of chiefs, went over the applications and the city’s criteria for its new chief with the commission in closed session Monday.

“We thought they did a terrific job,” Nelson said.

Nelson said the new, narrower list includes a “substantial number” of applicants from within the department, but would not say if all five of the candidates from the Port police department remain in the running.

All five of the potential candidates in the department applied for the job, Nelson said.

“Thanks to Chief (Richard) Thomas, our guys really are quite qualified,” he said. “He’s sent them to leadership classes, management schools.”

The remaining candidates will now be asked to answer a list of about six questions that will be sent to them this week, Nelson said. These will be due in about two weeks, after which the panel will again trim the list of applicants. The commission is expected to review that list when it meets in October, and will either accept the chiefs’ recommendation or cull the list further, Nelson said.

Those remaining in the running for chief — Nelson said he expects the number will be six or seven — will then be sent to an assessment center in late October or early November.

After that, the commission will hold one-on-one interviews with the finalists before selecting a successor to Thomas, he said. A background check will be done following the selection.

Thomas, who has been the department’s chief since August 2005, is retiring on Dec. 31. The commission hopes to have his successor on the job before that time.

 
Historic firehouse goes on the market PDF Print E-mail
Community
Written by KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM   
Wednesday, 07 September 2011 17:38

City to list building with local real estate firm for $249,900, give Historical Society two weeks to bid


The Port Washington Common Council Tuesday agreed to list the historic firehouse with Re/Max United with an asking price of $249,900.

The firm was one of two the city considered to market the building at the corner of Pier and Wisconsin streets in downtown. The other was Grubb Ellis of Milwaukee.

“They’re pretty equal,” Randy Tetzlaff, the city’s director of planning and development, told aldermen of the two firms’ proposals. “The marketing is identical, really. One is local. One has a little bit more of a national reputation.”

Re/Max United, which is based in Port Washington, proposed a 6% commission, adding that the sale price would likely be “a lot less,” Tetzlaff said.

Grubb Ellis had proposed an asking price of $225,000 for the property, but noted that the sale price would likely be between $175,000 and $199,000 because of the required mechanical updates and maintenance issues. Its commission would have been 7%.

City Administrator Mark Grams said that it may serve the city well to go with Grubb Ellis.

“We’ve already tried locally to sell the building,” he said.

But aldermen spoke unanimously in favor of listing the property with Re/Max United, a local firm.

Ald. Joe Dean made the motion to list the property with Re/Max, specifying there would be a two-week period during which the Port Washington Historical Society could come forward with a bid for the property. Re/Max’s commission would be reduced to 2.4% if the society successfully negotiated a purchase by then.

“I think 14 days is plenty of time given that they’ve had ample time to discuss this,” Dean said. “The writing has been on the wall for a long, long time.”

The Historical Society has long been interested in acquiring the building for use as a museum and offices. Its officials have asked the city to retain ownership of the property and lease it to the group for a nominal annual fee.

Ald. Jim Vollmar, who cast the lone ballot against listing the building, said Re/Max officials may have more success coming up with a workable plan for the Society to purchase the building.

“Tom Didier (of Re/Max) may have some ideas they could use,” he said.

Vollmar said his vote against the listing contract reflects his belief the city should not sell the historical building.

“I think it’s an asset to the community,” Vollmar said, adding he would like to see the Port Washington Historical Society take control of the building, either through a lease or purchase.

“I’d rather see the Historical Society succeed in its goal of making the city a historic attraction,” he said. “I just came back from Europe, and over there it’s all about museums and historic places.”

The sale of the historic firehouse is the last part of a complex deal the city made to keep Franklin Energy, a successful business, in the community. The firm is leasing the top floor of the Smith Bros. Marketplace building and renting its former home on Foster Street to the city, which converted it into the new senior center.

A key to making that deal work was the plan that the city would sell the former senior center — the historic firehouse — and use the proceeds to offset the cost.

 
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