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.-
Written by KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM
Wednesday, 06 July 2011 17:59
Port council weighs cost savings vs. safety in deciding to turn off half the lights along south end of road on trial basis
South Spring Street in Port Washington, which has frequently been compared to an airport runway because of the intense lighting, will be darker soon.
Aldermen recently agreed to spend $640 to have We Energies turn off every other light between Portview Drive and Sunset Road. This will leave lights lit every 100 feet on alternating sides of the street, which officials said should provide plenty of light.
“It’ll be the same as Wisconsin Street,” Ald. Jim Vollmar said June 21.
Ald. Joe Dean, however, dissented, saying the city should temporarily turn off the lights to make sure the area isn’t too dim without them.
“I do also think a decision of this magnitude is a decision we’re going to live with for 40, 50 years,” he said. “We should take a look at it first and be sure it will be right.”
Earlier in June, the Board of Public Works recommended that the lights be temporarily turned off, an experiment designed to let officials know whether they can move nine of the lights to Lake Street without creating a dark corridor on Spring Street,
Although officials believe the street will still be adequately lit without the lights, board members said they want to be sure before making a permanent change.
“If we pull the poles, there’s no going back,” Board Chairman Craig Czarnecki said. “We should take a look at it and see what it’s going to look like and see if there’s a backlash before we do it for good.
“People may say, ‘That’s great. It’s not the landing strip it used to be.’ But let’s avoid a worst-case scenario. Let’s make sure.”
But Vollmar, a member of the board, was the lone committee member to vote against the recommendation, noting that many communities are shutting off half their lights after midnight or turning them off all together as a cost-saving measure.
On Tuesday, he made the motion to turn the lights off permanently.
“Just do it,” he told the Common Council on Tuesday. “Why would we pay $600 just to turn them off?”
The city has been pondering the change for more than a year, he noted.
Ald. Mike Ehrlich, who is also a member of the board, said it’s important that the city make sure Spring Street won’t be too dark without these lights.
“My concern is we do it and it’s a little too dark there,” Ehrlich said.
The cost of testing the lights would be $1,200 — $640 each to turn the lights on and off.
“I guarantee that if you do it, you’re going to get 50% of the people who like it and 50% who don’t,” Mayor Scott Huebner said.
Dean questioned the cost of turning out the lights.
“Why does it cost $640 to turn the lights off?” he asked. “Has anybody said politely (to We Energies) ‘Are you out of your mind?’ and asked them to do it for nothing?”
Officials had talked to the utility, which owns the lights, but were told there would be a cost, City Administrator Mark Grams said.
Dean said he hoped the city could persuade the utility to waive the cost.
The decision comes as the city plans the reconstruction of Lake Street for fall. Officials are considering removing half the lights from South Spring Street and using nine of them on Lake Street as a cost-saving measure.
The remainder of the lights could be used at the entrance to the coal dock, officials have said.
Moving the streetlights to Lake Street would cost $24,600, officials said, while installing new lights could cost $48,500.