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Port Washington

Reassessment of properties in Port is first since 2004 PDF Print E-mail
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
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.”

Tavern license request riles neighbors PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 08 August 2012 18:02

Port residents cite noise concerns but officials grant cabaret permit, saying concerns can be addressed if they arise

    Sundance tavern is the latest bar in Port Washington to receive city approval to serve food and beverages on an outdoor patio, where entertainment may also be provided.

    The Common Council on Tuesday voted, 6-1, to approve a cabaret license and a conditional use permit that will provide for these outdoor services in a fenced area on the southwest side of the tavern at 551 N. Wisconsin St.

    Only Ald. Jim Vollmar dissented, noting that several neighbors had expressed concern that the noise will be disruptive.

    While the permit allows the tavern to serve food and beverages and have music outside until 10 p.m., several neighbors asked that the patio be closed earlier.

    “The people and the noise and the music were all inside. Now you’re bringing the bar into the neighborhood,” said Karina Gross, 553 N. Harrison St. “We’re hearing the foul language. We’re having people walk through our yards.

    “Why does this have to be in a residential neighborhood? There are plenty of empty storefronts in downtown.”

    She and her husband Link told aldermen they have no problem allowing diners outside on the patio, but Mr. Gross said he  preferred not having alcoholic beverages served or music played there.

    There are enough problems having a tavern in the neighborhood, he said, and these could be exacerbated with the outdoor area.

    Kyle Knop, 507 Catulpa St., told aldermen that since the statewide ban on smoking in taverns, more people have been congregating outside the bar and that’s when problems have occurred.

    “It’s when people are outside and they’re cursing, vulgarities are being thrown about,” he said.

    Randy Tetzlaff, the city’s director of planning and development, said the intent of the bar owners is to serve food and beverages and offer “music on the green,” relatively soft music, primarily during the day.

    The conditional use permit is identical to those issued to other city taverns and restaurants when they have opened outdoor areas, he noted.

    If problems arise, the council has the authority to revoke the permit or add more restrictions, Tetzlaff added.

    “We’re trying to be as careful as we can. We don’t want any problems up there,” said Lila Parent, who with Pat Montalto owns the tavern. “We certainly don’t intend to have a wild band out there. I understand there are young families living around our building.”

    But, she added, the bar has been in the neighborhood since the 1860s, and neighbors knew it was there when they moved in.

    Ald. Paul Neumyer noted that there have been few complaints filed with the police department.

    “It’s very hard to limit something if we don’t have a record of problems,” he said.

    Many of the neighbors’ comments are about problems happening now and can’t be attributed to the patio, Ald. Dave Larson said. They should be dealt with on their own, not as if they are being caused by the outdoor area.

    Although aldermen initially considered limiting the music to acoustic offerings, they eliminated that restriction.

    “I don’t think that’s fair,” Ald. Dan Becker said. “We haven’t done any restrictions on any one of the permits we’ve approved. I think we should keep everybody on the same playing field. Let’s see what happens.”


Driver charged in downtown Port hit and run PDF Print E-mail
Written by BILL SCHANEN IV   
Wednesday, 01 August 2012 17:16

Saukville man, 20, also accused of hiding drugs in car

    A 20-year-old driver has been charged with hitting a pedestrian in downtown Port Washington, then speeding away from the scene of the accident.

    Michael R. Frey of Saukville faces one felony count of hit and run causing injury in connection with the accident, which occurred at 1:30 a.m. Sunday, July 22, just hours after Port’s Fish Day celebration ended.

    That was the only crime Frey was charged with until police, who received an anonymous tip days later, discovered a secret compartment in his Honda Accord. In it, they found two types of prescription drugs — the narcotic pain reliever oxycodone and suboxone, which is used to treat drug dependencies, according to the criminal complaint charging Frey with one felony count of possession of narcotic drugs and one misdemeanor count of possession of a controlled substance.

    Frey’s trouble began when he hit a pedestrian near the 100 block of North Franklin Street, according to the criminal complaint filed in Ozaukee County Circuit Court.

    Two police officers and a reserve officer were nearby at the time and witnesses said the pedestrian, who was not in a crosswalk, either walked or ran in front of Frey’s car, Police Chief Kevin Hingiss said last week.

    “It was not the driver’s fault,” Hingiss said. “The problem is he drove off after it happened.”

    Frey sped off, weaving through downtown and past squad cars before turning onto Lake Street. He was headed toward Upper Lake Park when officers stopped him, the complaint states.

    Field sobriety tests indicated Frey, who said he didn’t see the pedestrian until he hit him, was not drunk or otherwise impaired, according to the complaint.

    Frey told police he fled the scene because he panicked, the complaint states.

    The pedestrian, Christopher Morano, 22, of Port Washington, was taken by ambulance to Froedtert Hospital in Wauwatosa, police said.

    After Frey was released from custody, he asked police and the Ozaukee County District Attorney’s Office for permission to remove items from his car, which was impounded, the complaint states.

    Randy Lanser of Lanser Garage and Towing in Belgium, which towed the car after the accident, also reported that Frey tried to access his car.

    Police then received two tips that Frey hid drugs in a secret compartment under the shifter in his car. Police found 33 oxycodone tablets and suboxone films in the vehicle, according to the complaint.

    Frey told police he wasn’t a drug dealer but had a “problem” that he treated with suboxone, the complaint states.

    Frey is free in lieu of $500 bail, according to court records.


Coal dock park work to begin in fall PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 25 July 2012 18:25

South end of lakefront land will open to public soon, but north end won’t be accessible until next June  

  The south coal dock will open to the public in the coming weeks, Port Washington officials said Tuesday, but the bulk of the dock won’t be accessible until next June.

    Although the city had hoped to get infrastructure work on the north dock under way earlier this year, plan revisions needed to meet state requirements meant construction was delayed, Public Works Director Rob Vanden Noven said last week.

    Design work is being completed for the walking paths, promenade, parking areas, access road and a bridge that will connect the north and south portions of the former coal dock, he said.

    “We’re building essentially the body of the park,” he said.

    However, there’s more to the project than the work on the north dock.

    Work to naturalize the bank of Sauk Creek is expected to be completed this fall, Vanden Noven said.

    A bird sanctuary built by We Energies on the south dock is expected to open Aug. 6, Vanden Noven said. At that point, people will be able to walk from the south beach through the south dock to the intake channel.

    Vanden Noven told the Coal Dock Committee Tuesday that he hopes to obtain bids for the north dock work in August. The Common Council could then award the bids in September, with construction beginning in October.

    “Because there are no residents in the area, the contractor can work on and off throughout the winter,” Vanden Noven said.

    In spring, city crews will build an elevated boardwalk along the east end of the north dock, he added.

    The boardwalk will extend off the 1,000-foot promenade that will run along the north end of the property adjacent to the west slip. There will be no railing along the 18-foot-wide promenade to allow maximum flexibility for boats docking next to the dock, Vanden Noven said.

    Five pedestals with low-light fixtures are expected to be installed on the promenade to service as many as 10 ships, he said.

    The city now needs to consider what the park will be used for and the amenities that should be added, Vanden Noven said.

    The park’s master plan called for everything from a water feature to an interactive children’s garden to a community center.

    There is plenty of space for events and amenities, Vanden Noven said, noting that Rotary Park, where several festivals are held, is one acre while the coal dock is 13 acres.

    A public meeting to garner input on the future amenities is scheduled for 5 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 2.

    Mayor Tom Mlada, a member of the committee, suggested the first event should be relatively modest, perhaps something that will draw a few hundred participants rather than a large festival.

    Others suggested the first event could be a grand opening for the park.

    To help fund the future park development, Mlada said, the city should look into public-private partnerships.

    A number of businesses and community groups have expressed interest in that, said committee member Sara Grover, executive director of Port Washington Main Street.  

    The committee also agreed the park should be called Coal Dock Park, which has been the working title for it.

    Committee member Randy Tetzlaff, the city’s director of planning and development, said, “People know where the coal dock is, just like they know where Upper Lake Park is. It’s a destination.”

    The name could be amended in the future, members agreed.

    The city also needs to emphasize the connection between the dock and the downtown, committee members agreed.

    “The harborwalk (which runs from the north beach to Fisherman’s Park and will eventually connect with the coal dock) feels like a long, out-of-the way journey,” said committee member Bob Mittnacht, who said the city should emphasize the park’s connection to Wisconsin Street.

    The walk shouldn’t be too intimidating,  especially for a city that prides itself on being pedestrian-friendly, Vanden Noven said, noting the distance from Veterans Park to the dock is the same as walking from Summerfest’s north gate to the main stage.

    “Once the entry to the park gets more inviting, people won’t think about how long the walk is,” said committee member Kathy Tank, the city’s director of tourism. “They’re going to want to get there.”

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