Written by MARK JAEGER
Wednesday, 24 February 2016 19:56
Donations, pledges help church’s replacement fund top $300,000 in effort to raise $550,000
St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Port Washington has started a $550,000 roof-replacement campaign with a significant head start on the ambitious goal.
An ad hoc committee planning the roof project hopes to have sufficient donations, or at least pledges, in place by the end of March.
The slate roof atop the landmark church has been in place for 135 years without undergoing significant structural repair. However, it is starting to show signs of failure from weather, erosion and wear.
The timing of the replacement project is critical, church leaders said, to avoid sustaining substantial structural and plaster damage.
“Timing is of the essence,” said planning committee spokesman Jim Kitzinger.
“We want to let bids so we can get things started in August, which will give the contractor a good chance to get it done before the weather gets bad.”
Originally, church leaders had considered placing a less expensive metal-panel roof on the building, but it was thought a similar slate roof would last another 100 years or more and be more in keeping with the historic nature of the structure.
The building was named to the National Register of Historic Places in 1977.
Over the years, a roof replacement fund had accumulated $150,000 in memorial donations.
As talk of the current roof project spread, another $150,000 in donations and pledges have been made even before the public replacement campaign began.
Most of those donations, including three family gifts which Kitzinger characterized as “substantial,” have been made anonymously.
“Historically, capital campaigns launch after a ‘quiet’ period when donations are solicited privately,” Kitzinger said.
“We were fortunate to have $150,000 in the till from the start. We were then able to contact a number people who have been generous supporters of the Catholic community, and the community as a whole, and got another $150,000 in commitments. Some other people just started sending checks.”
Pledges toward the roof project are now being accepted and can be made as a single payment or over a three-year period.
The financial breakdown for the slate roof: materials, $160,000; removal and disposal of old roof, $98,000; labor, $270,000; permits and equipment rental, $17,000; overhead, $5,000.
A website has been created for the campaign — www.stmarysroof.org.
The site includes a short history of the church, a project description, an online pledge form and contact information.
Questions can be directed to campaign chairman Patrick Jentges at
or treasurer Julie Russell at
The offices of the Port Washington-Saukville cluster of Catholic churches can be reached at 284-5771.
A YouTube video of Father Patrick Wendt discussing the roof project at a recent Mass has also been posted.
Written by KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM
Wednesday, 17 February 2016 21:12
Pending development of former Schanen farm raises question of who will provide sewer service
The City of Port Washington and Village of Saukville are set to resume talks over utility service to the former Schanen farm on the south side of Highway 33 on Port’s far west side.
The Port Common Council was to meet in closed session Wednesday to discuss the status of negotiations between the communities and strategies, terms and conditions for an agreement on who will provide sewer service to the property.
The 40-acre site, which is bordered on the west by Jackson Road, is owned by the City of Port and in the city’s borders, but it is within the village’s sanitary sewer service area.
That means that while the city would extend water service to the site, the village would handle its wastewater.
Since the city acquired the land more than a decade ago, Port has unsuccessfully sought to have the land placed in its sewer service area.
The property has long been envisioned as a multi-use site, most recently with parcels for a youth baseball complex, commercial uses and a residential development.
Rich Stasik, president of Port Youth Baseball, said that the group hopes to begin building a 90-foot field and the concessions stand this year.
Although talks between the two communities have lagged, news that Port Youth Baseball wants to get started has prompted the city to reopen negotiations, Mayor Tom Mlada said.
“They’re looking to us for direction,” he said. “We’re definitely hearing from different board members that they’re getting close. There’s more impetus for us to get something done.”
Talks between the city and village have been dormant for much of the past year, but the city recently approached the village to reopen negotiations, Mlada said.
“To some degree, the negotiations were driven by demand from youth baseball,” he said. “But the bottom line is we’re going to have to sit down and figure out what the best option is. Obviously we’ve got plans for that property.”
The city is open to a number of options to get the land in its sewer service area, Mlada said, including a property swap or payout.
“We have to look at what’s most advantageous,” he said.
Saukville President Barb Dickmann said the village is open to resuming talks, but added that it is also prepared to extend sewer service to the site.
“Saukville is happy to service the baseball people,” she said. “The area in question is in Saukville’s sanitary sewer area. We updated our wastewater treatment plant to include service to that area.
“It was always our intent to service that area.”
The village’s sewer lines are close to the property, Dickmann said.
A study by the village engineer estimated that the village would lose $23,000 in revenue annually over 20 years if it did not service the property, Dickmann said.
“We’re waiting to see what the City of Port is offering,” she said. “I’m open to hearing what the city has to say. We would like to reach an agreement that is fair to both communities.”
“We want to resolve this working together,” he said. “We have a good working relationship with Saukville.”
When the City of Port Washington acquired the Schanen property in 2000, it straddled Highway 33. The city expected a soccer complex and recreational park would be built on the south side, and it sold the northern portion of the land to Bielinski Brothers Builders for a subdivision.
While the subdivision was built, the soccer complex did not come to fruition. Then, in 2012, Port Youth Baseball proposed creating a four-diamond complex with one regulation field, one intermediate-sized field and two Little League fields, along with a concessions stand and equipment shed.
Other amenities, such as a walking trail, are likely to be incorporated into the design as well, the association said.
Written by KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM
Wednesday, 10 February 2016 20:06
Downtown fencing prompts request for temporary ban on moves by westbound traffic
The City of Port Washington should prohibit left turns at a key downtown intersection — for the duration of construction of the Port Harbour Lights project at the corner of Franklin and Main streets, the Board of Public Works was told Tuesday.
“It’s just dangerous,” said John Sigwart, 230 Theis St., who recommended that the city ban left turns for traffic heading west on Main Street at Franklin. “You’ve got people walking there along the fence, and you just can’t see oncoming traffic.
“I have to pull all the way out (onto Franklin Street) to see if someone’s coming.”
While it’s typical for motorists to have to inch out to check for oncoming vehicles, the situation at the corner of Main and Franklin streets is made more difficult by the construction fencing that extends into the roadway, Sigwart said.
The situation is exacerbated by the fabric that lines the fence, which keeps any construction debris from striking pedestrians and motorists but also makes it more difficult to see traffic, he said.
If someone wants to turn left — or south — at the corner, they can just as easily make a right turn and then a couple of lefts, he said.
But board Chairman Craig Czarnecki, a Port police officer, disagreed.
“If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my job, it’s that you can’t legislate common sense,” he said. “I don’t think it’s going to work.
“It’s going to be a mess.”
People who don’t notice the “No left turn” sign until they are at the intersection are likely to try and back up so they can make their way around, he said.
“We haven’t had any issues there,” Czarnecki noted.
While some people may try to ignore the “no left turn” legislation initially, Sigwart said there’s a simple solution. “All you have to do is put a ticket on a few people,” he said.
Public Works Director Rob Vanden Noven said that Police Chief Kevin Hingiss had also recommended banning left turns at the corner.
However, he said, City Administrator Mark Grams opposed the change, saying nearby businesses would oppose it because it would make it more difficult for patrons who use the parking lots that empty onto Main Street.
Board members suggested Sigwart discuss the matter with Hingiss and ask that the city’s Traffic Safety Committee take up the suggestion.
Written by KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM
Wednesday, 03 February 2016 19:21
Proposal that calls for entryway, Washington St. redesign, parking lot walkway will be unveiled at Feb. 17 forum
A preliminary design for Port Washington’s proposed marina district, intended to beautify the lakefront while enhancing access for boaters, motorists and pedestrians, will be unveiled at a public forum from 6 to 7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 17, at City Hall.
The plan, which was created by the Main Street Design Committee at the behest of the city’s Community Development Authority, is a way for the city to help draw traffic from the downtown to the lakefront, officials said.
It is designed to maintain parking in the area while making the area easier to traverse and, in the process, eliminate the expanse of asphalt that currently greets visitors, they added.
An outgrowth of the CDA’s downtown redevelopment planning, the marina gateway concept plan has been endorsed by the CDA and was well received by the Harbor Commission recently.
But the plan is far from final, City Planner Randy Tetzlaff said.
“This is just a concept plan,” Tetzlaff said. “We’re just trying to do the groundwork. This plan will be tweaked and reviewed and tweaked again before it’s finalized. We’re so early in the process, really still in the infancy.”
Despite the timing, the plan has been largely embraced.
Amy Otis-Wilborn, who lives on Pier Street, told the CDA that she likes the plan but wished neighbors had more opportunities to comment as it was being created.
“It looks pretty good to me,” she said. “But there’s no reason for us to find out about this so late in the process. It’s our neighborhood.”
CDA member Rory Palubiski said the neighbors will have an opportunity to comment on the plan just as other residents will at the Feb. 17 meeting.
“We’re going to present the plan and let people chew on it,” he said.
The plan involves creating an entryway on Washington Street at Harborview Lane that would give people a feeling of place as they approach the lakefront, Palubiski said.
It’s recommended that a piece of artwork or signage denote the entry, he added, noting an archway won’t work because boats need to travel under it.
Washington Street would also be narrowed and parking, possibly perpendicular or angle parking, will be limited to one side of the street.
The intersection with Lake Street would be revised to incorporate a wider turning radius for boats and trailers heading into the marina.
Parking along Lake Street would also be altered, particularly between Washington and Pier streets, to allow more vehicles to use the area.
While the far south end of the marina parking lot would remain unchanged, the the area just north of that, off pier three, would have convertible parking stalls that could be used by boat trailers or cars, depending on the time of day. This would allow flexibility and maximize use of the lot, Palubiski said.
A pedestrian walkway would extend across Lake Street on the south and north ends of this parking area, allowing safer passage across the parking lot than currently exists.
On the north end, this sidewalk would connect to an oasis of sorts, with greenery and a fire pit. This would extend to the north to the marina building off pier four, where a deck would be added.
The plan calls for the harborwalk to connect to the breakwater gateway area.
It also calls for the marina to eliminate the stairs leading from the parking lots to the boardwalk around the slips, providing a more accessible pathway for parents with drollers and people with disabilities.
The plan provides for roughly the same number of parking stalls in the area, Tetzlaff said — something that was important to officials.
The city hasn’t developed cost estimates for the project or a timeline, Tetzlaff said, adding the earliest possible implementation would be next year--if the city finds funding for it.