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Senior center poised to move June 2 PDF Print E-mail
Community
Written by Kristyn Halbig Ziehm   
Wednesday, 25 May 2011 17:42

Relocation of facility to former St. John’s Church will mark end of era in historic Pier Street building

After more than a year of debate and planning, the Port Washington Senior Center is prepared to move to its new quarters in the former St. John’s Church on Thursday, June 2.

“It’s getting hectic coming down to the actual move date,” center director Catherine Kiener said Tuesday. “We have boxes, we have empty boxes, we have them all over. The downstairs you wouldn’t recognize with everything packed.

“There are people who are anxious. There are people who are sad. It’s like leaving a house — you’re a little sad because of the memories, there’s a little trepidation, but it’s exciting too. ”

Architect Mike Ehrlich of Haag Müller, who is overseeing the renovations of the former church on Foster Street, said that installation of the elevator at the new center should be completed Friday. That, he said, is the last of the major items to be done there.

“It’s coming together quickly,” Ehrlich said. “If it weren’t for the elevator, the work would have been done long ago. There was a long wait for the elevator.”

That wait was compounded by the fact that the firm building the elevator initially shipped it without controls, Ehrlich said. The complete elevator finally arrived last Friday.

By Tuesday, there should probably just be a few punch-list items left to complete, Ehrlich said.

“I think the seniors are going to be happy there,” he said. “It’s going to be a great space. It fits right into the building — it looks like it’s part of the architecture.”

The city has hired Lakeside Movers to conduct the move at a cost of $3,045.

The move will likely take one day, Kiener said, adding that center programs,  including the meal site, won’t be held on June 2.

“There’s just no way we can hold our programs that day,” she said. “We hate to cancel the meal program, but it has to be.”

She’s hoping to be able to go through the building with the center’s board and the volunteers who run the various programs on Tuesday so they can begin to familiarize themselves with the structure.

But until then, packing will continue, Kiener said.

As far back as last fall, seasonal and seldom used items were already being packed in preparation for the move, she noted.

But in the past couple weeks, the packing has proceeded in earnest. Groups such as the Lakeside Tea Society and Chicks With Sticks have been purging their supplies of unnecessary items and packing those they will need in their new home.

“We’re hoping for the best, that everything comes together smoothly,” Kiener said of the move. “We’re making progress.”

The move will cap an exciting week for the seniors, she said, noting the Senior Games kick off on Wednesday, June 1.

“It’ll be a little hectic,” Kiener said.

“We’ve already been fielding calls from people who aren’t as involved with the center asking, ‘Are you moved yet?’”

To help get the word out, she’s already prepared signs announcing the move to place in the windows of the current senior center at the corner of Pier and Wisconsin streets on Thursday.

“It’ll take some getting used to,” Kiener said. “We’ve been here a long time. But this will be a new adventure for us.”

After the seniors have settled into their new home, she said, they will plan an open house for the community and especially their new neighbors.

“We want them to realize we’re all neighbors, that we have one community in common,” she said.

 
Senior center relocation delayed by remodeling PDF Print E-mail
Community
Written by Kristyn Halbig Ziehm   
Wednesday, 18 May 2011 17:27

Move to former church not expected until June; parking plan sparks debate

The Port Washington Senior Center probably won’t move to its new location in the former St. John’s Church until after Memorial Day, City Administrator Mark Grams said Tuesday.

“We were hoping they (contractors) would be finished the middle of next week,” he told the Common Council. “They’re a little behind, so it looks like they won’t be able to move until June.”

Even as the city prepares for the move, debate continues around the issue of parking at the new senior center.

The city is considering changing some of the on-street parking to angle parking, something sought by the seniors, Grams said, and asked neighbors for their opinion on whether this should be done on Webster Street or Foster Street.

To accommodate this, some of the streets around the senior center would have to be made one-way, Grams said. Foster Street is likely to be the preferred option, he said, because Webster Street is narrower and less able to accommodate angle parking.

Several area residents told the council they are concerned about the possible changes.

“We’ve never had an accident, and I don’t know why there’s a safety concern at this point,” said Donald Knuth, 234 S. Webster St. “The parking has been adequate. We’re quite concerned about this.”

Chad Austin, who lives on Foster Street, told aldermen that they need to take not just the concerns of the seniors into account but also residents when deciding the issue.

The city’s Traffic Safety Committee is expected to make a recommendation on the matter when it meets at 4 p.m. Thursday, May 19.

It will be a little while before the senior center settles into its new home, officials were told.

The biggest thing yet to be done is installation of the elevator, Grams said, noting that the work is expected to take a week.

Ald. Mike Ehrlich said the elevator was supposed to be delivered on May 11, but was not.

“It got tied up,” he said. Crews are expected to work over the weekend on the senior center, and a final inspection has been tentatively scheduled for May 31.

Aldermen on Tuesday did an about-face and agreed to hire Lakeside Movers to relocate the senior center from its current site at 102 E. Pier St.

Two weeks ago, they approved a contract with Mr. Mover for the work, but City Administrator Mark Grams said he later discovered that this contract did not include reassembly of the center’s pool tables.

If the city wanted Mr. Mover to do this work, it would have cost an extra $525, bringing the firm’s cost for the move to $3,515, he said.

Lakeside Movers had bid $3,045 for the work, including assembly of the pool tables, Grams said.

The city is looking at the options for the sale of the current senior center once the facility is relocated, Grams said.

Randy Tetzlaff, the city’s director of planning and development, has been talking to people who have indicated an interest in buying the building, Grams said.

If enough people are interested, the city may set a minimum price and seek bids on the property, he said.

Most of those interested plan to use the building for commercial endeavors, primarily as office space, Grams said.

Tetzlaff said he’s knows of seven people who have expressed interest in the building, and three have shown concrete interest.

 
Port council OKs ordinance outlawing fake pot PDF Print E-mail
Community
Written by Ozaukee Press   
Wednesday, 11 May 2011 17:39

Fake marijuana — aka K2, Spice, Genie, Yucatan Fire, Blaze and any number of other names — is now illegal in the City of Port Washington.

With little comment last Wednesday, the Common Council unanimously approved an ordinance making it illegal to possess, sell or purchase the faux drug, which is often sold as incense.

“It seems to be the new trend right now,” City Administrator Mark Grams said of the faux drug. “Now, they won’t be able to buy it, smoke it or even have it in Port Washington.”

Port Washington joins communities such as Cedarburg, Waukesha and Eau Claire in outlawing the synthetic drug, which officials said has become more common in recent months.

Most recently, police officers confiscated 26 grams of fake marijuana from a group of seven teens, five of them 15-year-olds, while investigating a complaint.

Officers confiscated the substance but could not ticket the teens for possessing it because there is no law against it, officials said.

The new ordinance allows for the chemical to be confiscated and calls for a fine of between $100 and $500 for possession of fake marijuana and a fine of $500 to $1,000 for the sale, display, delivery or distribution of the substance.

 
Planting boom shows Port’s Tree City side PDF Print E-mail
Community
Written by Kristyn Halbig Ziehm   
Wednesday, 04 May 2011 17:36
APPROXIMATELY 400 TREES were planted in Port Washington, many along city streets, during the past month by members of the city’s Street Department. As they planted, Gerard Lanser (left) shoveled soil around a sapling held by Bill Carroll.
                                                  Photo by Sam Arendt

Addition of 400 trees along streets this spring part of beautification effort

Port Washington earned its title as a Tree City USA, planting 400 trees along city streets during the past month.

Many of those trees were along streets that were constructed or reconstructed last year — South Wisconsin, Division and Chestnut streets and Sunset Road west of Highway LL, to name a few, Street Commissioner Dave Ewig said.

Others were planted to replace trees that had to be removed or to fill in gaps in the tree line along city streets, he said.

The city has been planting between 300 and 500 trees annually for the past several years, said Ewig, with a goal of creating a canopy over the streets.

“I think most people value trees,” Ewig said. “I think they understand the value of the shade and the cooling effect.”

The benefits of trees are well known, ranging from the removal of pollutants in the air and the slowing of stormwater runoff. They are an aesthetic feature of a community that also increase property values.

Port city crews completed this year’s tree planting last Friday, Ewig said. It’s a month-long process that starts with digging holes for the trees — something that by itself takes a week — and ends with mulching around the newly planted saplings.

The city will monitor the weather conditions and, if it gets too dry this summer, will water the saplings two or three times, Ewig said.

Port Washington, like many communities around the state, lost its elms to Dutch elm disease decades ago and is on the cusp of losing its ash trees to the emerald ash borer.

But the city has learned its lesson and no longer depends on only one type of tree. It has diversified its trees, and this year planted several varieties of maples, lindens, elms, Kentucky coffee tree, ginkgo, flowering crabs and even a few evergreens, Ewig said.

The city doesn’t typically plant evergreens, he said.

“This year, we just felt there were a couple locations suited to that type of planting,” he said.

Those include an area along Spring Street between Third and Fourth streets and an area off South Wisconsin Street near the We Energies power plant, he said.

If people ask for a specific type of tree, the city will try to honor their request, Ewig said.

And in the few instances when someone asks that a tree not be planted, the city will consider the request on a case-by-case basis, he said.

Roughly 90% of the saplings planted by the city are bare-root trees. They not only cost significantly less than those that are balled-and-burlaped, they are easier to handle and faster to plant.

Through the years, they city has gotten the process down pat, Ewig said, with a success rate of more than 90%.

“We’ve learned a lot of little things about how to plant them,” he said. “We think that’s a pretty high rate of success. We’re pleased.”

The city budgets about $3,000 annually for replacement trees. The cost of trees planted along reconstructed streets is built into the project cost.

 
New Port law will take aim at fake pot PDF Print E-mail
Community
Written by Kristyn Halbig Ziehm   
Wednesday, 27 April 2011 17:58

Aldermen cite need for ordinance in taking steps to ban possession, use of chemical

Fake marijuana — aka K2, Spice, Genie, Yucatan Fire, Blaze and any number of other names — has just started to make inroads in Port Washington, but aldermen on Tuesday took steps to make possession, use, purchase, sale and delivery of the substance illegal.

The Common Council had its initial hearing on an ordinance outlawing the chemical, which is often sold as incense, following in the footsteps of communities such as Waukesha, Eau Claire and Cedarburg.

Police Officer Kurt Knowski told officials that the substance was unheard of in the city until last September. Since then, he said, it has played a role in three incidents.

In one, he said, the driver of a vehicle involved in a traffic accident was under the influence of fake marijuana.

On April 20, he said, officers investigating a complaint at the Country Inn & Suites confiscated 26 grams of fake marijuana from a group of seven teens, five of them 15-year-olds. Two of the seven were cited for possessing paraphernalia.

Officers confiscated the fake marijuana but could not ticket the teens for possessing it because there is no law against it, Knowski said — a fact that’s likely to spread quickly among youths

“It’s a grey area,” he said. “It’s starting to get more prevalent.”

The substance is most popular among young people, Knowski said.

“They feel it’s not illegal so it’s safe,” he said. “They’ll tell us, ‘It’s not marijuana, it’s K2.’”

The substances look similar, Knowski said, but often smell different.

Fake marijuana has no THC — the active ingredient in marijuana, but it does have a more intense effect, City Attorney Eric Eberhardt said.

“You can smoke a lot less of this substance and still get the same high (as marijuana),” he said. “This substance has a tenfold greater kick.”

Knowski agreed, saying fellow officer Jerry Nye has said that while marijuana makes a person mellow, fake marijuana has the opposite effect on users.

“He finds them more aggressive, more belligerent and much more hard to control,” he said.

There is no test currently available to detect K2, Knowski said.

Police are hampered in trying to deal with the substance because it is not considered a drug, Knowski said.

“We’re asking the city to give us a tool to handle this appropriately,” he said, noting that the state has not yet enacted legislation outlawing the substance.

The proposed ordinance would call for a fine of between $100 and $500 for possession of fake marijuana and a fine of $500 to $1,000 for the sale, display, delivery or distribution of fake marijuana.

Police would also be authorized to seize the substance.

The fine for possession of fake marijuana is the same as the municipal fine for possession of marijuana, said Eberhardt, who noted that a three-gram bag of fake marijuana can sell for $30 to $40.

If fake marijuana is approved for medicinal use, the ordinance would make an exception for that purpose, he added.

“I think it’s very important to get ahead of this,” Ald. Dave Larson said.

Ald. Dan Becker, who asked the city to come up with the ordinance last year, said he would like to make Port’s legislation a model for other communities.

“It’s important we do something here and on the county level,” he said. Aldermen are expected to act on the proposed ordinance when the Common Council meets Wednesday, May 4.

 
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