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Port Washington

City set to begin marketing lakefront lot PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 27 May 2015 17:39

Requests for proposals for Washington St. parcel resume after completion of environmental study

    The effort to sell a city-owned lakefront parking lot in downtown Port Washington will begin in earnest again next month.

    Randy Tetzlaff, the city’s director of planning and development, told the Community Development Authority last week that a request for proposals for the property off Washington Street is being finalized now that a second-phase environmental study is complete.

    Konicek Environmental, the firm that conducted the study, found “a little of this, a little bit of that,” Tetzlaff said. “It’s not alarming.”

    The firm recommended that any soil that is disturbed by construction — perhaps of a lower level — be cleaned, he said.

    But, Tetzlaff said, company officials don’t recommend that the city clean up the site.

    “Why would the city want to do something? If we don’t get a buyer, it’ll stay a parking lot,” he said.

    The amount of cleanup recommended will depend on how much excavation a buyer plans to do, Tetzlaff added.

    Because of that, Konicek recommended that the city tell potential developers of its findings and let them decide what to do, he said.

    “It’s not as big a deal (to clean a site) as it used to be,” Tetzlaff said. “It will likely be reflected in the price.”    

    A downtown redevelopment plan created last year earmarked the parking lot at the north end of the north slip for a destination development to draw people to the lakefront.

    But a number of residents opposed the city’s plan to sell the lot, saying it is invaluable lakefront property that should be kept for the public.

    Officials note that the city owns miles of lakefront land. This site, they said, offers the community the opportunity to make property available for a project that could spur redevelopment throughout the downtown.

    The plan to sell the lot seemed to be on the fast track until officials decided to conduct environmental studies on the property, which was home to industrial buildings — most notably the Wisconsin Chair Co. — for decades before it became a parking lot.

    While officials originally hoped to receive proposals from developers by June 5, Tetzlaff told the CDA Monday that the new timetable calls for the Common Council to approve the request for proposals on June 2.

    The request would then be sent out by June 5, with a presubmission meeting with developers held on June 29, Tetzlaff said. Proposals would be due Aug. 5.

    The CDA would vet the proposals and make a recommendation by Aug. 17, with the Plan Commission reviewing any preliminary plans and designs for the development on Aug. 20.

    Negotiations with the developer would be held after that, with the preliminary date for Common Council action on the sale coming on Sept. 1, Tetzlaff said.

    John Sigwart, 230 Theis St., asked the CDA if it would be willing to move the timetable up if only one developer attended the presubmission meeting, which officials have said would be mandatory.

    Developers Chris Long of Madison and Gertjan van den Broek of Port Washington have already approached the city about the land, saying they want to create a Paramount Blues-themed museum, restaurant, performance space and banquet hall on the property.

    Their proposal was enthusiastically greeted by aldermen, and Sigwart noted that the duo wants to complete their development in 2017 to celebrate the centennial of the founding of Paramount Records.

    Accelerating the timetable could help them meet that goal, Sigwart said.

    This would be possible, the CDA members agreed, but they said they expect more than one developer to seek to buy the land.

    “I think it’s in the city’s best interests that there be more than one,” member Jason Wittek said.

Fond du Lac firm hired to oversee school upgrades PDF Print E-mail
Written by BILL SCHANEN IV   
Wednesday, 20 May 2015 18:48

C.D. Smith Construction chosen by PW-S board to manage $49.4 million improvement initiative

    The Port Washington-Saukville School Board decided Monday to enter into a contract worth more than $2 million with Fond du Lac-based C.D. Smith Construction Inc. to manage its $49.4 million school improvement initiative.

    The board chose C.D. Smith over Milwaukee-based CG Schmidt to serve as the construction manager for a complex $45.6 million Port Washington High School project that will include demolishing and rebuilding part of the school, the construction of two additions and renovations throughout the remainder of the school, as well as a $3.8 million addition to Dunwiddie Elementary School.

    School officials considered the selection of a construction management firm a critical early step in the process, especially since the firm will oversee the day-to-day work on a high school project that is to span nearly four years and be done while students are at school.

    Cost was a significant factor, but with both firms proposing similar fees and charges, school board members chose the firm they said would be the best fit for the district.

    Several board members noted that C.D. Smith is currently working on a project in the Lomira School District that, although about half the cost of the Port High project, is similar because it entails demolishing and rebuilding part of a school.

    “It’s appealing to me that C.D. Smith will be coming off a build so similar to ours,” board president Carey Gremminger said.

    C.D. Smith proposed a construction management fee of $685,000 compared to CG Schmidt’s fee of $710,921.

    The most expensive aspect of the contract, however, is the general conditions charges — hourly rates for on-site supervisors and, in some cases, charges for equipment and supplies ranging from portable toilets and fire extinguishers to fencing and mobile offices. District officials estimated the general condition charges of C.D. Smith will total $1.4 million while CG Schmidt’s charges would be $1.3 million over the duration of the project.

    When additional fees and performance bonds proposed by each company are considered, C.D. Smith’s proposal was about $10,000 less expensive, school officials estimated.

    Of particular concern to school officials was how each firm proposed handling change orders. CG Schmidt proposed a 1.69% fee on work outside of the original proposal while C.D. Smith proposed no additional fee, school officials said.

    If, for instance, the project were finished under budget and there was money remaining to make “project enhancements,” CG Schmidt would charge a 1.69% fee to manage the additional work while C.D. Smith would not as long as the overall cost of the project did not exceed the budget, Supt. Michael Weber said.

    “It was unusual to see a percentage fee for change orders, and it’s something we spent a lot of time figuring out,” he said.

    The board is expected to approve a contract with C.D. Smith, as well as an agreement with Bray Architects, which the board decided in April to hire without seeking competitive bids, next month.

District urged to get help overseeing school upgrades PDF Print E-mail
Written by BILL SCHANEN IV   
Wednesday, 13 May 2015 19:39

Former teacher, board member tells PW-S officials they should hire clerk to supervise $49.4 referendum project

    The Port Washington-Saukville School Board plans to select a construction management firm to oversee its $49.4 million school improvement initiative next week, but in the interim it received some advice from an architect who is no stranger to the district.

    Barrett Genson, a former Port Washington High School teacher and school board member who most recently served as director of facilities planning during the development of Florida Gulf Coast University in Fort Myers, Fla., told school officials during Monday’s board meeting that they should hire a clerk of the works to oversee the project and represent the interests of the board and taxpayers.

    “Hiring someone independent of the architect and the construction manager who works just for you may alleviate some of the consternation the public, including the Common Council president, has expressed about how the architect was hired,” said Genson, who added that he essentially served as a clerk of the works during construction of the Florida university.

    Genson was referring to criticism the board has received for deciding to hire Bray Architects, the firm that conceived the most expensive referendum in the history of the district, to design improvements at Port High and Dunwiddie Elementary School without seeking competitive bids.

    Last week, Ald. Dan Becker, president of the Port Washington Common Council, said the school board’s actions “didn’t pass the smell test.”

    Genson agreed, saying, “It doesn’t seem right to hire an architect for a $49.4 million project without going through a selection process.”

    A clerk of the works, who would report directly to the board and administrators, would ensure the additions and renovations planned for the two schools are built to specifications and are completed within the budget and on time, Genson said.

    In addition, a clerk of the works would settle any disagreements between the architect and construction manager, something that’s important given the complexity of the high school project, he said.

    “Forty-nine million dollars of construction is enormous,” Genson said. “You’re going to have a tough row to hoe accomplishing this while keeping school open.

    “On a project of this size, there are going to be conflicts, and you’re going to want a clerk of the works to represent you and settle them.”

    Supt. Michael Weber, however, said it will be the job of the construction manager to oversee day-to-day construction and report directly to school officials.

    “That’s what we’re hiring a construction manager for, but we appreciate his (Genson’s) willingness to be available to help us,” Weber said. “Someone with Barrett’s experience will be valuable.”

    The board is currently considering proposals from two finalists for the construction manager job — Fond du Lac-based C.D. Smith Construction Inc. and Milwaukee-based CG Schmidt.

    Administrators and school board member Marchell Longstaff recently toured a CG Schmidt job site at Hartford High School and a C.D. Smith project in the Lomira School District.

    “Both companies are very professional,” Weber said. “They truly are the owner’s person; they answer to the owner, not the architect.

    “We can’t go wrong with either of them.”

    School officials have also made progress in clarifying the fees proposed by each of the firms.

    CG Schmidt has proposed a management fee of $692,647 plus 1.69% on change orders.

    C.D. Smith has proposed a fee of $685,000 with no additional charge for change orders.

    Less clear, however, are the general condition charges — hourly rates for various supervisors and, in some cases, job site equipment such as portable toilets and on-site offices — which hinge on the duration of the project. Conceptual plans estimate it will take four years to complete the high school work.

    The board met in closed session Monday to develop a negotiating strategy and expects to have final proposals to choose from when it meets Monday, May 18.

    In related news, administrators said Monday that quick action by school officials to borrow $33 million of the $49.4 million less than two weeks after the referendum has saved about $900,000 in interest costs. That’s because interest rates have increased since then.

    Fearing that would be the case, Director of Business Services Jim Froemming worked with the district’s financial firm, Baird, to finalize details for the sale of bonds prior to the referendum, so if the referendum passed the board could act quickly to take advantage of low interest rates.

    “All of us knew how tenuous the market was,” Weber said. “Almost immediately after the referendum we were able to lock into a 3.2% rate.”

Town poised to restrict where sex offenders can live PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 06 May 2015 19:13

Officials authorize creating ordinance after residents express concerns about existing facility

    Town of Port Washington officials Monday authorized their planner and town attorney to draw up an ordinance that would limit where sex offenders could live.

    But officials cautioned that, even though their actions are a response to concerns voiced by residents who live near a facility where a registered sex offender lives, any new law would not affect that situation.

    That’s because the man in question already lives in the home, they said.

    “We could have an ordinance tomorrow and it wouldn’t change anything up there,” Town Chairman Jim Melichar said.

    Board members said Monday they are looking at ordinances used by other communities to pattern one for the township.

    “The biggest concern is how changeable it would be,” Melichar said.

    Town Supr. Jim Rychtik said, “We don’t want to create something that’s in conflict with state law.”

    Many of the ordinances used in other communities limit the places where registered sex offenders live to areas more than 1,000 feet from parks and similar public areas, board members said. But, they said, there are still plenty of questions to be answered.

    One important question, officials said, is whether natural areas such as the Forest Beach Migratory Preserve or the Sauk Creek Nature Preserve would be considered public parks, since they are owned and operated by the Ozaukee Washington Land Trust.

    The Ozaukee Interurban Trail is another question, they said, noting it is used by bicyclists of all ages.

    “We need to figure out what we can regulate under state statutes and what we have in the town that falls within those guidelines,” Rychtik said, otherwise any ordinance drawn up may be moot.

    Supr. Mike Didier also questioned the definition of a sex offender.

    “Is it the guy who streaked the baseball game when he was 17 years old and there was a 14-year-old in the stands?” he asked.

     The town can’t regulate sex offenders so tightly that there is no where for them to live, officials noted.

    “Our business is trying to create a safe community,” Rychtik said.

    The Town of Port is not the only community in Ozaukee County grappling with the issue. The Town of Cedarburg is expected to take up the issue, Didier said, noting every community in the county except for the townships and the City of Port already have an ordinance regulating where sex offenders can live.

    The issue of housing sex offenders came before the board last month when more than a dozen residents living near Upper Forest Beach Road told officials they are concerned for their safety.

    Monica Reyes, CEO of Abundance of Life, which has operated what she called an adult family home for people with disabilities at 4870 Upper Forest Beach Rd. for more than a year, said in an interview that one of the three residents is a registered sex offender who has completed his jail time and is under supervision.

    Her agency works within guidelines established by probation and parole officials to protect the safety of the residents, staff and community, Reyes said.

    “We have protocols in place for that,” she said.

    The Plan Commission could take up the proposed ordinance as soon as its Wednesday, May 13, meeting.

Food Pantry cupboards alarmingly bare as need persists PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 29 April 2015 21:33

Addressing unexplained food shortage will be priority for Port Washington agency’s new director

    The shelves of the Port Washington Food Pantry are running woefully low, and officials from the agency are seeking help to fill them.

    Filling them will be the first order of business for new director Chris Flint of Port Washington, who on Friday, May 1, will replace longtime administrator Joy Dreier, who retired in January.

    That job will be made a little easier  Saturday, May 9, when the postal carriers hold their annual food drive. People are asked to put donations next to their mailbox, where they will be picked up by mail carriers and brought to the Food Pantry.

    Last year’s drive brought in 8,200 pounds of food — enough to last the Pantry about 3-1/2 weeks, said Bob Dreier, president of the Food Pantry board of directors.

    “It’s unbelievable. The shelves are really low,” said longtime volunteer Cathy Schowalter, who has been filling in for Joy Dreier. “It’s the lowest I’ve ever seen them.

    “I really hope people realize the need we have for food.”

    Clients at the Pantry are given bags of food, and in recent weeks she’s had to buy far more than normal to make sure the bags are full, Schowalter said.

    Joy Dreier said it’s typical to see the shelves run low later in the year, since food drives aren’t generally held in summer, but this is earlier than normal.

    She’s not sure why, but noted that the director of Family Sharing told her they are facing the same issue.

    Schowalter noted that new clients are coming to the Pantry every week.

    “I’ve had so many new clients this year,” Schowalter said. “Your heart goes out to them hearing their situations. It really makes you realize how good you have it.”

     The Food Pantry has been serving about 97 families each week, Bob Dreier said, adding that the agency’s client list has 242 registered families representing 667 individuals.

    Flint, a New York native, will become only the third director of the Food Pantry.

    “I’m excited , anxious, nervous,” she said. “I have big shoes to fill.”

    Flint, who has a degree in math, spent much of her career in the retail sector in New York, Chicago, Massachusetts and Milwaukee.

    In 2007, she lost her job to downsizing after the company she was working for was bought out. That same year, her husband died.

    Looking for a job, she had a flash of inspiration while reading the newspaper one day.

    “I thought, ‘I can be a Realtor. Why not?’” Flint said.

    She went to school and became a real estate agent with Realty Executives.

    She retired last year.

    “I loved the challenge, but you reach a point where you say, ‘Enough,’” Flint said.

    That’s not to say she sat at home waiting for her next opportunity. Flint is the treasurer of the Port Washington Womans Club, is active at St. Peter of Alcantara Catholic Church, where she is an usher, Eucharistic minister and member of the cluster council, and does some work at the Ozaukee
Sports Center.

    Flint didn’t volunteer at the Food Pantry, but after Joy Dreier retired and no one stepped forward to fill her post, board member Phil Groothousen approached her to see if she would be interested in the job.

    She’s now working with the Dreiers to learn the job.

    “My goal is just to make sure we keep going and serving the people who need our help,” Flint said. “It’s a shame so many people need us.”

    That’s been the goal since the Food Pantry was formed in 1982, Joy Dreier said. At that time, Ellie Schiff, who worked at Cope Services, recognized the need because of the large number of calls related to hunger she received at the hotline.

    She came to the St. Peter’s Parish Council and presented a plant to start a food pantry, asking parishioners to bring a food item to Mass each week to help the hungry, Joy Dreier said.

    Working through the county’s Social Services Department, the priest initially handed out bags of food to people who sought them. Later, she and Schiff would come in on Tuesdays to organize things.

    Eventually the operation moved to the basement of the rectory, where it continues to open its doors to those in need on Tuesday mornings. Eighty-four volunteers staff the Pantry.

    “It all seems simplistic, but it worked,” said Joy Dreier, who took over as administrator of the Food Pantry in 1984. “It grew and grew and grew.”

Image information: CHRIS FLINT (left) will succeed Joy Dreier (right) as director of the Port Washington Food Pantry this week.  Photo by Sam Arendt

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