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Port Washington


Board approves borrowing for energy savings in PW-S schools PDF Print E-mail
Community
Written by BILL SCHANEN IV   
Wednesday, 12 September 2012 17:52

Officials set cap at $2.4 million, but projects are expected to cost less

    The Port Washington-Saukville School Board on Monday approved borrowing as much as $2.4 million to pay for a number of energy-efficiency projects.

    By a unanimous vote, the board approved a borrowing plan that would typically require voter approval in a referendum. A state law, however, allows school boards to borrow more than $1 million without a referendums if the money is used to finance improvements that result in energy savings.

    The district’s plan is to undertake a series of projects that range from upgrading and replacing boilers in schools and installing high-tech heating and ventilation controls to using energy “misers” on vending machines.

    Administrators said the district will probably not have to borrow the full $2.4 million authorized by the board, but they want flexibility in case the cost of some projects is unexpectedly high. A more accurate, although conservatively high, cost estimate is $2.27 million, Director of Business Services Jim Froemming said.

    That estimate includes a 7% commission for McKinstry, an energy-savings performance contractor hired by the district to design and oversee the projects.

    “These estimates are based on initial quotes, not bids,” Froemming told the School Board. “It’s like a flyover at 5,000 feet. These are not hard numbers, but they are conservative numbers.”

    School officials said the district is ideally positioned to undertake an energy-saving capital improvement project now, noting that in addition to addressing needs like aging heating systems, the improvements are expected to save more than $100,000 in annual utility costs.

    Earlier this year, the district made its last $485,000 payment on its referendum loan. The new debt is expected to cost the district $240,000 in principal and interest annually, less than half the previous payment, Froemming said.

    Supt. Michael Weber said the scope of the energy savings project was determined with the goal of keeping this year’s tax rate, which is set in October, flat.

    In addition, the district’s AA bond rating and low interest rates have made borrowing money more affordable than it has been in years. Froemming said he expects the district to be able to borrow as much as $2.4 million at an interest rate of between 1.2% and 1.8%. The district would borrow the money for 10 years, which is the expected payback period for the projects.

    Also factoring into the board’s decision to undertake the projects now is the district’s robust fund balance, which essentially serves as a savings account. The district ended the 2011-12 school year with a surplus of $795,497, which brings the fund balance to $5.2 million.

    The board will have to decide whether it wants to borrow the full amount of the projected cost, or delay borrowing and finance part of the initiative with money from the fund balance. The risk of delaying the borrowing is that interest rates could rise, and each 1/10 of a point increase will cost the district an additional $10,000, Froemming said.

    The district plans to seek bids early next year for work that could begin as soon as the heating season ends.    

    Among the planned projects, the upgrade and replacement of boilers at the high school and Dunwiddie and Saukville elementary schools constitute the largest portion of the initiative with an estimated cost of $1.1 million. Upgrading heating and ventilation controls at those schools and Thomas Jefferson Middle School is expected to cost $508,391.

    Other projects include a “green IT” plan that will examine computer and printer use and include computer optimization software, building weatherization throughout the district and a water conservation effort that may include retrofitting toilets and installing sink aerators.

    McKinstry estimates the district will initially save $185,194 in energy and operational costs and could receive $67,876 in Focus on Energy credits.

    School Board President Jim Eden said  it makes sense to deal with issues like aging and inefficient heating systems before they stop functioning.

    “If a boiler goes down when it’s cold out, we have a problem and we won’t be in any position to bargain for the best price,” he said. “Rather than wait until things fall apart, I’d like to act now.”       



 
Contracts for coal dock work total $1.5 million PDF Print E-mail
Community
Written by KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM   
Wednesday, 05 September 2012 18:23

    Port Washington officials took a huge step forward in developing the coal dock Tuesday, unanimously awarding roughly $1.5 million in contracts to build infrastructure for the future park.

    “The bids, thankfully, came in lower than our ($2 million) estimate,” Public Works Director Rob Vanden Noven told the Common Council.

    That will give the city a little cushion to pay for some work not included in the contracts, such as inspection services, repairing and restoring bollards, installing marina pedestals and planting trees, Vanden Noven said.

    He said he would have an updated estimate for those costs next month.

    Ald. Dave Larson, chairman of the Finance and License Committee, noted that the project attracted seven bids — a product, he said, of the size of the contract and the fact it is a high-profile project.

    The council awarded the contract for work on the north dock to Heartland Construction Co., which previously worked on the Sunset Road and Beutel Road reconstruction projects.

    The firm will be working with TP Construction, which recently constructed Lake Street and also worked on the harborwalk, Vanden Noven said.

    The infrastructure work includes walking paths through the interior of the dock, a promenade, lighting parking areas and an access road.

    Pfeifer Bros. Construction Co. was awarded the $281,389 contract to construct a bridge linking the north and south coal docks.

    Work on the project should start at the end of September and will likely continue until Thanksgiving, Vanden Noven said. Contractors will likely resume work in late March and complete the project by June 15.

    The city will borrow funds to cover its share of the infrastructure work, which will also be financed through a $961,500 Department of Natural Resources stewardship grant. Some of the additional costs may also be covered by the grant, Vanden Noven said.

    He noted he recently applied for another grant that could cover a portion of the cost of the marina pedestals, a platform for low-riding boats and some sewer work.

     While this work will make the coal dock usable for people, its not the only work being done on the area.

    City crews recently completed the first portion of the Sauk Creek naturalization project, building a 30-foot-long bridge over  Mineral Springs Creek, Vanden Noven said, and We Energies recently opened the south coal dock, where it created a bird sanctuary.

    While the infrastructure work will allow public access to the coal dock, it will be a bare-bones park until the city creates attractions there.

    Although the park’s master plan called for everything from a water feature to an interactive children’s garden, those were generalized ideas, Vanden Noven said.

    Now, the city has to determine what it wants to see there, he said.

    The coal dock committee will discuss what amenities should be added to the park when it meets Tuesday, Sept. 25.

    A public meeting to garner ideas on park amenities will be held on Tuesday, Oct. 16.


 
Police presence returns to Port schools this fall PDF Print E-mail
Community
Written by BILL SCHANEN IV   
Wednesday, 29 August 2012 17:33

Officer will be assigned to work at middle, high schools for the first time since 2009

    For the first time in four years, a police officer will be assigned to public schools in Port Washington, Police Chief Kevin Hingiss said Tuesday.

    Officer Tom Schleg, a 20-year veteran of the force, will be assigned to Thomas Jefferson Middle School and Port Washington High School for the start of classes next week.


    “Officer Schleg’s demeanor and experience make him an ideal candidate for this position,” Port Washington-Saukville School Supt. Michael Weber said.

    The new school policing effort will be different than the previous school liaison program, which was discontinued at the beginning of the 2008-09 school year, Hingiss said.

    Under the now defunct liaison program, which was jointly funded by the police department and school district, an officer was assigned to all schools in the district with the mission of building positive relationships with students, conducting programs on such topics as student safety and responding to incidents.

    “When the liaison program was started, it was new and different, and it was effective,” Weber said. “But as it went on, and with the advent of other efforts like Character Counts, we got to a point were it wasn’t needed.”

    After the program was discontinued, officers made regular visits to schools, but this approach suffered from a lack of the continuity that is achieved by assigning a specific officer to the school beat, Hingiss said.

    “One of the most difficult things for us was having so many different officers in schools,” Hingiss said.

    The new program, which is being funded exclusively by the police department in its normal operating budget, calls for Schleg to focus on middle and high schools exclusively.

    “That’s where we end up having the most contact with students,” Hingiss said. “Our mission is twofold. Above all, we want to build trust between the police and students. We also want to eliminate the issues that result in student-police contact.”

    Schleg will spend between eight and 20 hours per week in the schools depending on scheduling demands within the department.

    Hingiss said he was able to assign an officer to the schools because of the recent hiring of another police officer, James Russel, who was sworn in on Aug. 6. Schleg’s time in the school will be limited until Russel completes his field training — a three-month process — and joins the regular patrol rotation.

    “It’s worth mentioning that I would never assign an officer to the school who didn’t want to be there,” Hingiss said. “Officer Schleg is very excited to be doing this.”

    Weber said Schleg is a welcome addition to the school system.

    “The school district and police department crafted this program together so students would become more comfortable around police officers and so we would have an officer who can talk to our classes and emphasize respect for others and respect for property,” Weber said.




 
Reassessment of properties in Port is first since 2004 PDF Print E-mail
Community
Written by KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM   
Wednesday, 22 August 2012 17:44

Notices sent to residential, commercial owners reflect adjustments in market value

    Reassessment notices were sent to residential and commercial property owners in Port Washington this week by Mass Appraisals.

    The reassessment, the first since 2004, was required by the State of Wisconsin to ensure property values reflect their market value, assessor Ernie Matthies said.

    The reassessment will also address inequities that have occurred since the last reassessment, he said.

    “In the last eight years, we’ve seen the market go up and the market go down,” Matthies said. “It’s had quite an effect on properties.”

    While there have been a number of foreclosures in the city, they aren’t used in the firm’s sales comparables.

    “Those are forced transactions, liquidations,” Matthies said. “But while we don’t use those sales, they do exert an effect on the overall market.”

    Unlike the last reassessment, where assessors visited every property in the city, this revaluation was done by viewing properties from the outside and conducting a sales analysis, Matthies said.

    The analysis is primarily based on sales from 2011, he said, although the firm also looked at 2010 sales and is aware of sales that have occurred this year.

    The value of residential properties in the city generally increased 6% to 7%, he said, while commercial properties were up about 13%.

    Residential property values had fallen to an average of 92% of market value, Matthies said.

    “But just because the whole is at 92% doesn’t mean all properties will increase or decrease at the same rate,” he said.

    “It used to be a truism that starter homes appreciated more than the rest of the market. It was a seller’s market then. Now that it’s a buyer’s market, we’re not seeing that.”

    Although the city won’t set its tax rate until November, Matthies said people can get an idea of how the reassessment will affect their taxes by multiplying the new assessment by .01707, the 2011 equalized tax rate.

    Commercial properties had fallen to 87% of market value, Matthies said. In addition to sales data, a questionnaire submitted by property owners was used to help determine the new valuations, he said.

    The assessment books will be open for public inspection at City Hall from Friday, Aug. 31, through Thursday, Sept. 6. Matthies will also be available to meet with property owners.

    The Board of Review will meet to consider appeals of assessments at 5 p.m. Sept. 25. Appointments are required for the Board of Review.


 
Ambitious plans unveiled for former bank PDF Print E-mail
Community
Written by BILL SCHANEN IV   
Wednesday, 15 August 2012 17:49

Historical Society wants renovation of Franklin St. building to include second-floor deck, outdoor plaza facing harbor

    The renovation of the front of the once derelict bank building in downtown Port Washington has been a focus for city officials, but it was plans for the back of the building that intrigued leaders Tuesday.

    The Port Washington Historical Society, which has purchased the southern portion of the former M&I Bank building at 118 N. Franklin St. and intends to create a museum there, plans to renovate the back, or east side, of the 105-year-old building in a way that would capitalize on its proximity to the lakefront and hopefully spark additional efforts to link the harbor to Franklin Street, architect Mike Ehrlich told members of the city’s Design Review Board.

    “The views from this side of the building are spectacular,” Ehrlich said. “We’re trying to celebrate what is already there.”

    Plans call for larger windows on the east side of the building and a cantilevered 15-foot steel and glass deck extending from the second floor. The deck, which would provide an ideal place for the Historical Society to host receptions, would also provide shade to protect museum artifacts on the first floor, Ehrlich said.

    “I envision this deck resembling the stern of a ship,” he said.

    Outside, the Historical Society intends to create a plaza-type area that would feature plantings surrounding a circular, concrete deck accented with a large compass rose.

    “The idea is that if you’re sitting by the harbor you would see this and think, ‘I wonder what that is. I’d really like to check it out,’” Ehrlich said.

    The plans, he said, would help achieve the goal of Main Street Inc. and the city to break up the swath of pavement and parking places that separate the harbor and Franklin Street.

    “The whole idea is to create this connection between the street and the harbor, which is what Main Street wants,” Ehrlich said.

    Ehrlich noted that he has been working closely with the Wisconsin State Historical Society to ensure that renovations to both the back and front of the building are as historically accurate as possible. The building is part of the city’s historic district, and the Port Washington Historical Society hopes to eventually have the building listed to the National Register of Historic Places, he said.

    The Historical Society also hopes that its project will spark additional improvements between Franklin Street and the harbor.

    Director of Planning and Development Randy Tetzlaff said Mark “Chico” Poull, who owns Schooner Pub directly to the south of the Historical Society building, is planning renovations to the east side of his bar. Those plans, he said, hinge on the relocation of utilities.

    In addition, city plans to redesign the parking lots between the harbor and Franklin Street are in the conceptual stages, Tetzlaff said.

    “The Historical Society really wants to see these plans move forward,” Ehrlich said.

    The Historical Society building was constructed in 1907 by Henry & Hill and for years was the Business Man’s Club, a gathering place for local businessmen who would play billiards and bowl there. It also was home to a five-and-dime and grocery store before being incorporated into the adjoining bank building.

    In 2007, the property was purchased by Port Harbor Investments, which began renovations on the facade but never completed the work. The building fell into disrepair and the city went to court to force the corporation to fix or raze the structure.

    The city was on the verge of having the building torn down when Port Washington resident Gertjan van den Broek purchased it.

    The Historical Society bought the southern portion of the property earlier this year with an anonymous donation that is also providing funding for the renovations.

    Design Review Board members praised the Historical Society’s plans for the building but took no action on them because the board lacked a quorum. The designs will be considered by the Plan Commission Thursday.

    Design Review Board members also praised plans for a downtown building at the corner of Franklin and Jackson streets. The former Brewmeister’s Trading Post at 322 N. Franklin St. was recently purchased by Highland Park, Ill., resident Ross Leinweber, whose also owns property in the Town of Belgium, Ehrlich said.

    Leinweber is planning to renovate the exterior and interior of the building to create high-end retail space on the first floor and living space on the second floor, Ehrlich said.

    “I think the plan looks fantastic,” Public Works Director Rob Vanden Noven said. “It’s great that the owner of the building wants it to look so nice.”




 
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