Written by KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM
Wednesday, 03 August 2011 18:36
Resident who says she’s irritated by smell of dryer sheets plans petition drive to have nuisance ordinance enforced
For Amy Leder, the distinctive odor of dryer sheets that sometimes lingers over parts of Port Washington is a cloying stench that brings on a physical reaction.
“It clogs my throat. It gives me a headache,” Leder said. “It doesn’t happen that often, but when it happens, I can’t be outside.”
Leder, who lives on West Walters Street, said she is circulating a petition calling for the Kleen Test Products to contain the odor within its plant at 603 N. Moore Rd.
“This action will greatly enhance the quality of life and business opportunities in Port Washington, reduce allergic discomfort ... as well as save residents money by not having to air condition their homes to exclude the stink of Kleen Test,” the petition reads in part.
“They don’t have to close it down,” Leder said. “I just want them to get a better filtration system.”
Leder said she didn’t know about the company when she moved to Port Washington more than two years ago.
“If I had known I had to smell dryer sheets, on some days really intensely, I would not have moved here,” she said.
“Since I’ve been here, I find very few people say, ‘I love the smell of Kleen Test.’ Some people don’t notice it. Most people can’t stand it.”
Leder said she has called City Hall and Kleen Test to complain about the odor to no avail. Because of that, she put together a petition asking the city to enforce its public nuisance ordinance in regard to the odor.
City Administrator Mark Grams said the city has received few complaints about the company in recent years.
“She (Leder) is the first to complain in a long time,” he said.
Several years ago, he said, the city received a number of complaints about the odor, but since then the company has installed a new filtratation system and instituted a policy not to leave doors open.
That has largely solved the problem, Grams said, although there are occasions when the distinctive scent can be detected in the city.
“I haven’t smelled it much lately,” he added.
Mayor Scott Huebner said he, too, has received few complaints about the company.
“If the company’s not emitting anything hazardous, I don’t see where we would take any action,” he said. “If any action needs to be taken, it would probably have to be through the Department of Natural Resources.”
Huebner noted that many communities have distinctive smells, not all of them pleasant, and they linger all the time.
“You go to the Fox Valley and you smell paper mills,” he said. “This isn’t an everyday smell. They have taken steps in the past to minimize the odor. I don’t think it’s been as bad as in the past.”
Ron Dillahunt of the DNR said the agency has not received any complaints about Kleen Test for the past couple years.
“I have talked to a few people about Kleen Test in the past,” he said, adding that the DNR worked with the firm in the past to minimize odors.
The firm uses internal air scrubbers to reduce odors at the plant, he said, and keeps its doors closed.
“Those are the main things they can do,” he said.
The firm, he said, is not required to have an air permit from the DNR because its emissions are below the standards set by the agency.
Odor regulations are subjective, Dillahunt said, adding that the agency looks at frequency, intensity, duration and objectionability.
“It is not a foul-smelling odor,” he said, “The intensity hasn’t been that high when I’ve smelled it.”
A call to Kleen Test Products for comment was not returned.
Written by KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM
Wednesday, 27 July 2011 17:48
Comments on creating public growing space next to Interurban Trail in Port to be accepted at Aug. 3 meeting
Port Washington gardeners may have a new place to plant flowers and vegetables next spring.
A community garden with 65 plots is proposed to be created on one-half acre of city-owned land next to the Ozaukee Interurban Trail, south of Hales Trail and kitty-corner from Kaiser Park.
A public meeting on the proposal will be held from 5 to 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 3, at the Niederkorn Library’s community room.
Organizers are seeking input on the location, advice and looking to create a list of people who may be interested in renting a plot or helping with the garden.
Information gathered at the meeting will be presented to the city’s Parks and Recreation Board at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 11.
“They (board members) are very interested in the idea,” said Derek Strohl, who is organizing the community garden effort. “They just want more community input.”
Strohl, who has been working on a community garden “on and off” for six years, last year worked on plans to develop the garden near Dunwiddie Elementary School.
Those plans were derailed, he said, when the Port Soccer Club, which developed the site about a decade ago as a soccer field but hadn’t used it in about five years,
decided it needed the space.
Strohl reviewed a number of other sites before settling on the current area.
The garden would be fenced, in large part to protect it from deer that live and feed in the area, he said.
Several years ago, Strohl noted, he proposed creating the garden on a site northeast of this one but people in the area overwhelmingly rejected it because of the
A small path will have to be built for handicapped accessibility, as will a couple raised garden plots. The remainder of the garden will be in-ground.
The fence will be the biggest part of the expected $3,000 in start-up costs for the garden, Strohl said. Grants and donations will be sought to cover the cost.
The garden plots are expected to cost gardeners about $25 annually.
“We’re very optimistic we can raise the money this year so we can open the garden next spring,” Strohl said.
He would like to till the ground this fall and incorporate large amounts of compost into the soil. In spring, the fence would be built.
The biggest challenge, Strohl said, will be water.
“We could spend many thousands of dollars putting in water pipes,” he said, or much less to install two 250-gallon tanks and filling them from a nearby hydrant.
Gardeners would then use a spigot to fill watering cans.
In time, he would like to convert the tank spigots so a hose could be attached.
Strohl said he and three others have been working on the project, but would like others to join them.
“We need a board,” he said, noting rules for the garden need to be drawn up. “We’ll need help with the construction. There’s a lot of work to be done.
“But we’re overdue for this. Our community needs this. We need our children to grow up knowing where their food comes from. People need to be able to grow their
own food, even if they live in an apartment and don’t own land. People who don’t have land think, ‘I can’t have a garden.’ There’s no reason why we can’t have that.
We have plenty of public spaces.”
Playgrounds and concert venues are widely accepted uses for public lands, Strohl said, and gardens should also be.
“It’s a worthwhile activity for a community,” he said. “I get a lot of comments from people who say they’re excited about this.”
Written by KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM
Wednesday, 20 July 2011 19:30
Ordinance tones down restrictions that had banned plantings in public areas
A revised lawn law that allows plantings in the parkway while still requiring properties to be maintained was approved Tuesday by the Port Washington Common Council.
The three-page ordinance not only accomplishes the city’s original intent of cracking down on unkempt lawns but also gets rid of a clause in the existing law requiring parkways to be
planted only with grass.
The new ordinance also allows hillsides, ravines and bluffs to be kept natural, noting that in these areas the plantings typically serve to control erosion.
City Administrator Mark Grams referred to the ordinance as a scaled down version of a draft presented a month ago, noting he and City Attorney Eric Eberhardt “pared it down to focus on
the issues that need to be addressed.”
The original intent, he said, was to make it easier for the city to crack down on property owners who allow their yards to grow unchecked.
The past ordinance did not allow the city to require a property owner to cut the lawn unless it was 12 inches long. The owner then had 10 days to mow.
The new ordinance shortens the allowable length to 8 inches and gives property owners five days to cut the grass.
While few people questioned this change in the ordinance, many were upset about the continued prohibition on plantings in the parkways.
Mary Enright, 126 S. Spring St., told aldermen Tuesday that she and others who have planted flowers in the parkways have done so to beautify their properties.
“The only thing that grows there are the dandelions because of the amount of salt (spread in winter),” she said. “I am caring for the plants I put there. I think it’s much better than the
dandelions that otherwise grow there.”
Grams said the former parkway law was in place “for umpteen years” and was never enforced, even when people landscaped the parkways.
“We let it go because nobody complained,” he said.
The ordinance approved Tuesday says that parkways “should be mowed and maintained as a lawn,” a change from the previous draft that said the areas “shall” be planted with grass.
“Shall imposes a duty,” Eberhardt explained. “Should implies a duty.”
The revised wording “strikes a nice balance,” he said.
“We felt that was the best way to give the city a little wiggle room if we get a complaint,” Grams added.
Ald. Paul Neumyer said the ordinance makes it clear that the city is “not going to track people down who have plantings in their parkways. We’re not coming out with weed-whackers and
Grams also noted that the city does not want to encourage every property owner to fill their parkway with shrubs or plants.
“I don’t think you want every parkway in the city to have flowers and large bushes,” he said. “Then it’s going to become a problem for people parking and trying to get out of their cars.”
Ald. Mike Ehrlich questioned whether the new language would give the ordinance enough teeth in case of problems, such as plantings in the parkway blocking the view of motorists.
Other portions of the city code address those issues, Grams said.
Ald. Jim Vollmar said he still believed the ordinance was too confusing.
“I really think this can be redone to be a much simpler ordinance,” he said, adding that the city should draw up a separate ordinance to deal with vacant properties.
But Ehrlich disagreed, saying, “Addressing just vacant homes doesn’t make sense.” Neglected homes also need to be regulated, he said.
Written by KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM
Wednesday, 13 July 2011 17:33
State approval paves way for city ambulance crews to start providing advanced emergency service
Paramedics will begin answering ambulance calls in the City of Port Washington on Monday, Aug. 1.
Fire Chief Mark Mitchell said the State of Wisconsin approved the city’s request for paramedic status last week, giving the department a year to phase in a full-time program.
“This will be wonderful for the community and the entire area,” Mitchell told the Police and Fire Commission Monday night.
The Thiensville paramedic unit — the only other paramedic unit in Ozaukee County — has been “running ragged” answering calls throughout the area, he noted.
Mayor Scott Huebner hailed the news, saying it is good news for residents.
“It will enhance the quality of life here,” he said. “This service is very important to give residents faster, more advanced treatment in an emergency. People will get a higher quality medical service that will help save lives. That’s really great.
“For a small community like Port Washington to pull this off is terrific.”
The news that the department’s application has been approved was long-anticipated by the city.
The department began work on its application last spring, and originally hoped to receive approval in time to begin the service in January.
Mitchell said the department has guaranteed the state it will provide paramedic service from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, he said.
“We know we can do more than that,” Mitchell said, noting three of the four weekend ambulance crews include a paramedic.
Of the Port ambulance crew’s 26 members, four are paramedics. However, they have been unable to use their advanced skills because the department did not have paramedic status with the state.
The department has a list of nine or 10 other paramedics interested in working part time, and will begin interviewing them later this week, Mitchell said.
By the end of the year, he said, he hopes to be providing paramedic service around the clock.
The department will not immediately provide intercept service, where the paramedics meet other ambulances en route to the hospital to provide advanced care to patients, Mitchell said.
“We will have that in place by Jan. 1,” he said. “Or most likely sooner than that.”
The department already has the equipment and virtually all the drugs needed for the paramedic program, Mitchell said.
An area of the firehouse has been earmarked for use as sleeping and living quarters for the part-time paramedics, Mitchell said, noting that those interested in the job “come from all over the place, from the Green Bay area, Plymouth area, and mostly
the suburban Milwaukee area.”
The living quarters will be developed as needed.
The Common Council recently approved a new fee schedule that includes increased charges for the paramedic service, and approved paying paramedics $5 an hour while on-call and $20 an hour while they are responding to calls.
The increased fees are expected to cover the cost of the service.
Mitchell credited department members Maribeth Barbuch and Jim Riley with doing much of the work on the application, adding that the department worked with the Thiensville service in creating its plan.
“This will just enhance the level of pre-hospital care a person will get,” Mitchell said.
Both EMTs and paramedics provide significant care for patients, but paramedics are able to conduct more advanced procedures and administer many more medications, including those for pain and cardiac care.-