Written by KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM
Wednesday, 17 October 2012 18:21
Proposals for lakefront land offered at meeting include kite festival, ski area, planetarium, museum and more
Ideas as disparate as a kite festival, cross-county ski area, a planetarium and a shipwreck museum were suggested for Port Washington’s coal dock during a public information meeting Tuesday.
About a dozen people attended the meeting to hear about infrastructure that is being constructed on the dock and to propose ideas for uses of the park.
“We’re looking for ideas, either for specific events or permanent improvements,” Public Works Director Rob Vanden Noven said, noting that many of the uses included in a 2009 master plan are concepts.
Port Washington Tourism Director Kathy Tank, a member of the Coal Dock Committee, cited a proposed community center on the coal dock.
“At the time, we envisioned the historical society museum to be out there,” she said. “Now, they have a home in downtown. We need to look at that.”
Dan Micha suggested the city create a planetarium on the dock, noting there is no such structure nearby.
“I’m thinking about a draw,” he said. “We can enjoy this as a community year-round. There’s no reason a 9 or 10-year-old can’t go there and get excited and learn.”
The city should approach We Energies’ foundation to seek funding for the proposed community center on the dock, Micha added.
“Approach them, get the check and get it done,” he said.
John Sigwart asked whether the city had considered building a structure that could create revenue for the community, particularly on that portion of the dock that isn’t governed by the state’s public trust doctrine. That document requires the dock, most of which is filled lakebed, to be used for public purposes, not private ones.
That’s unlikely since the city is leasing the dock from We Energies, said Vanden Noven, noting that the utility is not interested in allowing the city to do that.
One man asked how realistic it is to think the city could become headquarters for a proposed shipwreck sanctuary by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration with a flagship building on the coal dock.
When the sanctuary was proposed in 2010, NOAA officials stressed that its creation would take a long time and was in the early stages.
Today, creation of the sanctuary is stalled at the federal level, Tank said.
“If they ever move it off center, we’re in the running,” she said. “Stalled doesn’t mean dead.”
But with federal budget struggles looming, the immediate prospects aren’t good, she said.
Bill Moran suggested the city consider holding a kite festival on the dock, noting the lack of power lines and the lake winds would make it an ideal location.
“I want to go out there and fly a kite with my granddaughter,” he said.
Several people spoke to the need to have portable toilets available on the dock, at least until the proposed community building is constructed.
The coal dock park, which was approved in concept in an agreement between We Energies and the city in 2001, is envisioned as a four-season park that will both the community and attract regional visitors.
The south dock, which will be connected to the north dock by a pedestrian bridge, is home to a bird sanctuary and a pedestrian pathway that leads to the south beach.
But the 17-acre north dock holds infinite promise for the city, Vanden Noven said.
The city is currently building a 1,000-foot-long promenade along the north side of the dock, an entry drive, parking, east-side boardwalk and docking spaces for tall ships and other large vessels.
The former crane rail, which runs near the promenade, will be overlaid with concrete to create a bench. Wooden benches will also be installed every 100 feet.
A World War II memorial has already been approved for the site. It will be built on the southeast corner of the dock.
At Tuesday’s Common Council meeting, Ald. Jim Vollmar said the city should reconsider its decision not to install a railing along the promenade, saying there needs to be a barrier to keep people from falling into the lake.
“That whole area is going to be open,” Vollmar said, adding that ladders the city installed to help anyone who falls get back onto land aren’t adequate.
Vanden Noven, who noted that the Coal Dock Committee had not expressed any concerns about the lack of fencing, said it’s common not to have a railing in areas where large ships moor because it gives maximum flexibility in docking these boats.
The promenade is 18-1/2-feet wide, giving people plenty of room to walk, he added.
“In summertime, we have hundreds of people navigating the breakwater, which is much narrower, without falling in,” Vanden Noven said. “It hasn’t been an issue.”
The issue will be placed on the next Coal Dock Committee agenda for discussion, he added.
Mayor Tom Mlada said he expects Tuesday’s public informational meeting will be the first in a series of community forums on the coal dock, noting the community needs to help determine the uses for what will be a showpiece park for the city.
“I certainly don’t view that one meeting as the be all and end all,” Mlada said. “My hope is we get people to understand they can still play a role in determining what we need that coal dock to be.”
Written by KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM
Wednesday, 17 October 2012 18:11
Port commission, council approve plan for WWII tribute without input from Parks and Recreation Board
With few comments, Port Washington aldermen and Plan Commission members last week gave final approval to the construction of a World War II memorial on the coal dock.
But members of the Parks and Recreation Board, who met the same night, criticized the fact that the Common Council approved the project without any input from them.
“It’s insulting,” Board President Lori MacRae said. “I’m really ticked off.
“I think it’s kind of a neat thing, but we should have been consulted.”
Board member Mary Ann Klotz concurred, saying other people are required to appear before the panel for its recommendation if they want to do something in a city park.
“I think it’s an insult to Derek Strohl, who had to come here 50 times for a community garden and Joe Dean (the alderman who proposed the war memorial) can completely bypass us,” she said.
“It wasn’t done right. It’s a park. It should have come here first so we could give a recommendation to the council.”
MacRae said she thought Veterans Memorial Park might have been a better location for the memorial than a new, showpiece city park, a suggestion that board member Bryan Deal disagreed with.
“The location is key,” he said, noting that a reflection pond and water are important to the World War Memorial in Washington, D.C.
“The water there helps make the memorial,” Deal said. “It’s not the same without the water.”
MacRae replied, “I appreciate your saying that, but I would have appreciated having that discussion here.”
After all, she said, the Parks and Recreation Department is responsible for all the city parks.
Parks and Recreation Director Charlie Imig noted that both he and board member Ron Voigt are members of the Coal Dock Committee, which gave approval to the plan to construct a replica of the Wisconsin pillar at the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C., on the coal dock.
Aldermen may have felt they expressed the board’s views, Imig said.
Mayor Tom Mlada said Tuesday that he understood the board’s concerns, but said there are mitigating circumstances — namely the need to get the project under way because of the number of World War II veterans dying each day and the hope they will be able to see the memorial before they die.
He noted that Voigt is the Parks and Recreation board representative on the Plan Commission and had a say in the project.
The memorial, which will be built by the Stars and Stripes Honor Flight, will be placed on the southeast side of the coal dock.
It will consist of the replica pillar, which will be about 17 feet high and 4 feet wide, with a pathway of engraved bricks leading to it and three flagpoles. The Stars and Stripes Honor Flight will sell the bricks to pay for the project.
A sign will also be erected at the site containing a replica of the stars found on the Freedom Wall at the national World War II monument. The star, which memorializes those killed in the war, will be placed so that the pillar shadows it at 11:11 a.m. on Veterans Day, Nov. 11, he said.
Both the Plan Commission, which recommended approval of the monument, and the Common Council, met in special sessions Oct. 11 to vote on the project.
Special meetings were held so that work on the memorial could begin immediately to ensure the project is completed by Veterans Day. A dedication is planned for Friday, Nov. 9.
Written by KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM
Wednesday, 10 October 2012 17:05
Project is among coal dock uses to be discussed at public informational meeting Oct. 16 in Port
On Tuesday night, the Port Washington Board of Public Works discussed a plan by the Stars and Stripes Honor Flight to erect a World War II memorial on the coal dock.
While praising the group’s efforts to honor the veterans, Ald. Jim Vollmar, a member of the board, asked that some consideration be given to honoring veterans of other wars as well, perhaps with a reflection pool.
“We should honor the sons and daughters of Port Washington who have died, made the ultimate sacrifice,” he said.
Those comments were echoed by Ald. Paul Neumyer, a board member who said one of his constituents asked him how the city planned to remember other veterans.
“I think this (World War II memorial) is great, but we can’t forget about the others,” Neumyer said.
Public Works Director Rob Vanden Noven recommended they express their feelings at a public informational meeting on the coal dock that will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 16, at City Hall.
A presentation on the current plans for the dock will be given at 5:30 p.m.
Tuesday’s meeting is intended to update the public on plans for the coal dock and get ideas on possible future uses for the 17-acre parcel.
The city is currently constructing infrastructure on the dock, including paths through the interior of the dock, a promenade, lighting, parking areas, an access road and a bridge linking the north and south dock areas. That work is expected to be completed by mid-June, in time for a June 22 grand opening.
While the city’s master plan for the coal dock includes everything from a water feature to an interactive children’s garden, those plans are not set in stone, Vanden Noven said.
“It’s dynamic,” he said. “We want to hear from people how they want to see the park used and what they want to see there. There’s a lot of potential there. What ideas do people have for the coal dock?
“Do they have interest in holding special events there? Do they want the children’s garden? Should we tweak that idea or come up with a completely different concept?”
By Tuesday’s meeting, however, a decision will likely have been made on the World War II memorial. The Plan Commission is expected to act on the site plan for the memorial during a special meeting at 6 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 11.
A special Common Council meeting will be held at 6:15 p.m. Thursday to consider approving the location for the memorial.
Work on the project is expected to begin Friday, Oct. 12, to ensure the monument is ready for a planned Nov. 9 unveiling and dedication.
Written by KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM
Wednesday, 03 October 2012 18:44
Port council endorses Honor Flight group’s effort to build World War II monument on coal dock
The Port Washington Common Council on Tuesday gave concept approval to plans to build a replica of the Wisconsin pillar at the World War II memorial in Washington, D.C., on the coal dock.
“We couldn’t imagine a better spot for this,” Ald. Joe Dean, chairman of the Stars and Stripes Honor Flight, told the council.
The actual pillar at the World War II Memorial has become a gathering place for the veterans who travel with the Honor Flight to Washington, D.C., Dean said.
“The vets just flock to this pillar to have their picture taken,” he said.
The replica pillar, which will be about 17 feet high and 4 feet wide, will be constructed on the northeast end of the coal dock.
The Stars and Stripes Honor Flight will sell engraved bricks that will be used to create a pathway around the monument to fund the project, Dean said.
A sign will also be erected at the site containing a replica of the stars found at the Washington, D.C., monument, Dean said. The star, which memorializes those killed in the war, would be placed so that the pillar shadows it at 11:11 a.m. on Veterans Day, Nov. 11, he said.
Dean said he believes the monument, which will be lit at night, will serve as an educational tool and draw people onto the coal dock.
“It truly is us paying homage to the Greatest Generation,” Mayor Tom Mlada said. “It’s certainly going to be something to draw people out there onto the coal dock.”
“This is very cool,” Ald. Dan Becker said. While praising the project, he questioned whether consideration had been given to placing the memorial at Veterans Memorial Park.
Ald. Jim Vollmar also questioned why the memorial was for World War II veterans instead of all veterans, particularly those from Port Washington.
“Has there been any thought to incorporating all the sons and daughters of Port Washington into this?” he asked. “I think it’ll cast a shadow over those who served in Korea (and subsequent wars).”
Dean noted there are other veterans memorials in the city, including those in Veterans Memorial Park and at the Justice Center, and said organizers were struck by the setting at the coal dock, which lends itself to reflection.
He said organizers would look at ways to honor all veterans at the site, perhaps through signage.
Plans call for the memorial to be dedicated on Veterans Day, but to meet that deadline, crews need to begin putting in the foundation by Oct. 12, Dean said.
The memorial concept still needs approval from the Plan Commission before that work can begin.
The commission is expected to hear the proposal at 6 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 11, and make a recommendation to the council. The council will meet immediately following the commission meeting to act on the recommendation.
In other action Tuesday, the council approved a change to the design of the bridge that will span the We Energies intake channel and link the north and south coal docks.
Originally, the mesh sides of the bridge were to be 4-1/2 feet, but We Energies wanted the span to be fully enclosed to prevent anyone from falling over the side and being swept under by the strong current, Public Works Director Rob Vanden Noven said.
A compromise was reached that calls for the mesh sides of the bridge to be 8 feet tall, Vanden Noven said.
The change will add $8,400 to the cost of the bridge, half of which is expected to be paid by the Department of Natural Resources.