Written by KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM
Wednesday, 04 September 2013 18:17
Proposed law to prevent unsafe lakefront activities goes to Port council Sept. 17
Even as they plan for Coal Dock Park’s grand opening celebration Sept. 28 and 29, Port Washington officials are continuing to refine the park’s use and makeup.
On Tuesday, the Common Council reviewed a proposed ordinance that would prohibit people from skateboarding in the park and from swimming and diving into the lake and Sauk Creek.
“We’ve already had instances of kids jumping from the promenade (along the north side of the dock) into Lake Michigan,” city Administrator Mark Grams said. “The current there is fairly strong, so we really want to discourage that.”
The danger comes because the power plant’s outflow is located nearby, he said, causing the current in the area to be stronger than it seems.
Youths have also been skateboarding in the park, Grams said, noting that activity is prohibited downtown.
“I saw a kid skateboarding on the railing to the steps there,” he said, noting this could cause damage to not just the railing but the steps as well.
Aldermen are expected to vote on the proposed ordinance when they meet Sept. 17.
The Common Council also approved an $8,800 contract with Dave’s Excavation and Grading to repair the lawn in the new park.
“It was rutted up pretty badly during construction,” Public Works Director Rob Vanden Noven said. “Right now, it’s essentially growing wild.”
The Port Washington company will till the area, regrade it and plant it with turf grasses and, around the boardwalk, with native plants.
Also Tuesday, the Parks and Recreation Board approved the idea of lending the Lions Club $15,000 from its open spaces fund to help fund a pavilion in the park.
The club would repay the loan over the next five years.
City Administrator Mark Grams had asked whether a three-year repayment plan was possible, Parks and Recreation Director Charlie Imig said.
Shawn Hokanson, president of the Lions Club, said the group is also contributing to beach signs and would like to stretch the payments over five years to ensure it isn’t overextended.
Board members agreed, with Ald. Kevin Rudser saying, “I’d hate to have to have three be the number and you have a couple of bad years with your fundraising.”
The pavilion would be a memorial to Tyler Buczek, who drowned off the north beach last Labor Day weekend, and Peter Dougherty, who drowned while kayaking off south beach last spring.
The cost of the pavilion is estimated at $90,000, and the Lions Club gift is the first major donation, said Jim Buczek, Tyler’s uncle and a member of the city’s Waterfront Safety Committee.
“We’re just getting the ball rolling,” Hokanson said, noting the club approved the donation several months ago. “We like to do projects that improve life in the city, and this fits in well with that mission.”
Mayor Tom Mlada, who is organizing a four-mile lakeshore run and walk for Sept. 28 as part of Coal Dock Park’s grand opening celebration, received approval from the Parks and Recreation Board to contribute any funds from the event to the pavilion.
Written by KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM
Wednesday, 28 August 2013 18:31
Port officials reaffirm decision to conduct tests at Upper Lake Park in effort to combat erosion problem
Port Washington officials last week reiterated their intention to conduct soil borings on the Upper Lake Park bluff in a continuing attempt to find a way to stabilize the hillside.
But the decision to spend $17,117 to hire Wisconsin Testing Labs was not without controversy.
The city’s two newest aldermen, who were not in office when the testing was initially approved last year, questioned the decision.
Ald. Kevin Rudser said he agreed with the project last year, but after attending a conference on bluff stabilization, he changed his mind.
“I’m not sure it’s worth spending the money,” he said. “The lake is going to take what the lake is going to take.”
Ald. Bill Driscoll concurred, saying he has done a significant amount of research into the issue.
“What I’ve found is a whole lot of stuff that doesn’t work,” he said.
But other officials said the borings will provide the city with information needed to make a final decision on a bluff stabilization plan.
“I think this is something we need to do,” Ald. Dan Becker said. “We have to do this to find out where our problems are.
“At the very least, we will get more information to help us decide where to go from here.”
Ald. Mike Ehrlich agreed, saying, “This is the first step to find out how we stabilize the bluff. This will give us the information we need to make a decision.”
The council approved the borings last summer after learning about a wick system that could be used to draw water from the bluff.
The Common Council agreed to hire Giles Engineering — which submitted the lower of two bids — to do the work at a cost of $14,880 but delayed the project until this year because of budget concerns.
In the meantime, the city received a $7,440 Wisconsin Coastal Management grant to pay for half the cost.
But officials said Giles Engineering never provided the necessary proof of insurance to the city, so they approached Wisconsin Testing Labs to do the work.
The company will conduct two soil borings to a depth of about 110 feet and install piezometers to determine the levels of groundwater in the bluff. The results would be analyzed by the firm, which would also make recommendations on various stabilization measures, such as installing drain wicks and cutting back the bluff.
The slumping bluff has plagued the city and beach-goers for decades. In the 1980s and ’90s, it wasn’t uncommon for large portions of the bluff to collapse.
In April 1993, a huge mudslide moved tons of earth down the side of the bluff and across the beach, leaving a mound of clay-like earth roughly 12 feet high.
Bluff stabilization has been a popular topic for years. In 2001, the city commissioned a bluff study by JJR, a firm that specializes in waterfront projects.
The controversial plan proposed by the group called for cutting back the bluff significantly, as well as constructing breakwaters and revetments to protect the base of the bluff at a cost of $4.3 million.
The plan was doomed not just because of the high pricetag but also because many people feared it would require trimming the size of Upper Lake Park too much and destroy the beach below.
Written by KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM
Wednesday, 21 August 2013 18:19
Council OKs law calling for fines of at least $100 for violations on city property
It’s now illegal to feed ducks, geese and migratory birds on City of Port Washington property, and anyone receiving a ticket for it will be fined between $100 and $500.
The Common Council on Tuesday approved an ordinance outlawing the feeding of the birds, but the discussion had less to do with the merits of the prohibition and more to do with the fine.
Ald. Dave Larson initially proposed a fine of between $25 and $500, saying the side range would give police officers and the municipal judge “room to work.”
But Ald. Paul Neumyer, a retired police officer who two weeks ago warned that imposing too high a fine might discourage officers from issuing tickets, suggested a fine starting at $100.
“I don’t think $100 is out of line,” he said.
Officers can issue a warning to someone before writing a ticket, Neumyer said, adding that if circumstances are right they could even issue two warnings.
But Ald. Mike Ehrlich said $100 is a steep fine for an activity traditionally enjoyed by tourists and local residents alike.
“Although I understand the importance of it, boy, that’s a lot of money to start off,” Ehrlich said.
He suggested a $50 to $500 fine, echoing Neumyer’s original concern.
“Are we going to have officers not wanting to enforce this?” Ehrlich asked.
City Attorney Eric Eberhardt noted that whatever fine the Common Council sets would only be the start, noting that court costs and surcharges are added to the fine to determine the amount a violator pays.
Mayor Tom Mlada suggested the city post signs, particularly at the marina and lakefront parks, that not only warn people they shouldn’t feed the birds but also tell them why they shouldn’t.
That might serve as a better deterrent to feeding the birds than the ordinance, Ald. Bill Driscoll said.
Not only do the birds leave a mess, it’s a mess that can cause a health hazard for humans and other birds, he noted.
“People feeding the ducks don’t want them to die,” said Driscoll.
“If someone reads that and still feeds the ducks and gulls, I have no problem fining them,” Mlada said.
Aldermen adopted the ordinance with a fine ranging from $100 to $500. If the fine is not paid, the judge can jail violators for as long as 30 days, they agreed.
No matter what the fine, aldermen noted that police officers are likely to issue tickets only after warning someone.
“I don’t see an officer hiding behind a boat and waiting for the first person to come along with a bag of corn to issue a ticket,” Neumyer said.
Written by KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM
Wednesday, 14 August 2013 18:23
Organizers of Aug. 30 event say they may need Main Street funds to help cover expenses
With 2-1/2 weeks before Rock the Harbor opens on the streets of downtown Port Washington, organizers are working to raise roughly $30,000 needed to cover festival expenses,
Port Washington Main Street board members were told Monday.
That amount will be offset, at least partially, by additional sponsorships, ticket sales and festival revenue, such as the sale of beer and other beverages at the festival tents, but
anything that isn’t covered will be shouldered by Main Street, despite repeated promises by festival organizers that the event would not be financed by the organization.
“The ideal situation is not to (need Main Street funding),” Cathy Wilger, a festival organizer and member of the Main Street board, said Tuesday. “The bottom line is we need to
raise money. But in the end, if we come up short, we may have to get some Main Street funding.
“Rock the Harbor is a Main Street event. They are not two different entities.”
Contracts for the festival were signed by Main Street, Wilger said, noting all expenses of more than $1,000 are approved by the executive committee.
The festival has paid all its bills so far, she stressed, and it will go on as planned.
“We have paid every bill to this date,” Wilger said, adding organizers continue to seek sponsorships and donations for the festival.
Main Street Executive Director Sara Grover said the organization is working with festival organizers to minimize any shortfall in revenue. However, she said, the impact could be
significant to the organization.
“Could this be detrimental to Main Street? Yes,” she said.
From its inception last year, Rock the Harbor — a Friday, Aug. 30, street festival in downtown Port Washington being held in conjunction with Harley Davidson’s 110th anniversary
celebration in Milwaukee — was touted as a stand-alone event that would bring a crowd of thousands to downtown Port.
“We’re one of the biggest (community) venues that weekend,” Wilger said, noting there will be as many as 50 vendors on the grounds, which will fill Franklin Street and stretch
along Washington Street to the lake. “When Harley riders come, they like to ride and see the area. They don’t just stay in Milwaukee.”
A number of Harley clubs have said they plan to come to the Port event, she said.
But City Administrator Mark Grams pointed out that Harley’s anniversary celebration on the Summerfest grounds in Milwaukee will host Aerosmith on Aug. 30, and there are other
large events that night.
The festival will also be competing with events held locally, he said.
“I give Cathy and Amy (Gannon) credit for what they’ve done,” Grams said. “But this isn’t a case of if you have it, they’ll come.”
The festival expenses include the cost of tents, insurance, security and entertainment.
Organizers signed country singer Darryl Worley, who has had nearly 20 hit singles on the charts, to headline the festival. Seven other musical acts will perform from 3 to 11 p.m. on
the festival’s three stages.
The festival is free, but organizers hope to sell 250 premium-seating tickets that entitle holders to a prime spot in front of the stage and their own beverage tent and restrooms.
About 20 of the $40 tickets have been sold, Wilger said, but sales are picking up.
Fundraising, particularly sponsorships, has been a challenge not just for Rock the Harbor but every event, she said.
“There isn’t a single person I’ve talked to this year in connection with events who hasn’t struggled,” Wilger said. “It’s not just Rock the Harbor.
“Are there huge sponsors? No. There are a lot of people who have donated. It’s not that they’re donating thousands of dollars. It’s what people and businesses can afford.”
Board member Scott Schweizer said the board should provide $10,000 for Rock the Harbor just as it does for other festivals, such as Maritime Heritage Festival.
“Why wouldn’t we support this as well?” he asked.
Main Street board members on Monday considered a variety of ways to cut expenses, including scaling back the event.
Cutting back the festival is counterproductive, Schweizer said, noting that it needs to have things for people to do or they will leave and spending their money elsewhere.
The event won’t be cut back, Wilger said Tuesday.
“We don’t think that’s a viable option,” she said. “What we need to do now is promote the event and get people there. Cutting back the event doesn’t help that.”
Schweizer said Tuesday he’s not concerned about the potential shortfall, saying he believes things will pick up as the festival draws closer.
“I think we’re going to make it,” he said.