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Port Washington


Club antes up for coal dock railing as Port officials idle PDF Print E-mail
Community
Written by KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM   
Wednesday, 17 September 2014 18:32

Jaycees contribute $6,200 from run/walk but city has yet to fund safety measure

    The Port Washington-Saukville Jaycees raised more than $6,000 for a railing along the promenade in Coal Dock Park — a cause near and dear to many of the organizers’ hearts — during the inaugural Land Regatta Run and Walk in August.

    News of the donation came just weeks after the city learned that it did not receive a Wisconsin stewardship grant it had applied for to pay as much as half the estimated $200,000 cost of the railing, Public Works Director Rob Vanden Noven said.

    “We’re going to search for other grant sources,” he said.

    That means the railing, which has been an amenity sought by many since the park opened last summer, won’t be installed until at least next year, officials said.

    And that will only happen if funding is found for the railing.

    The importance of the railing was recognized by the Jaycees, who dedicated the proceeds from their first walk-run, held during Maritime Heritage Festival, to the effort.

    “We wanted the run-walk to support a community project, and we thought this was something the community would be passionate about and something we care about,” said Christina Brickner, a Jaycee who organized the Land Regatta.

    “The safety of the park is important to us. For us, having that railing is very important. Some of us don’t even go to that park because there’s no railing.”

    Jaycees are people ages 18 to 40, Brickner said, adding that the core of the local group are people with young families.

    Many of the more than 200 participants in the Land Regatta felt the same way as the Jaycees, Brickner said, adding the proceeds came not just from the race fee but donations as well.

    One young boy brought in about $70, the money he raised from a lemonade stand, she noted.

    “That was awesome, really heartwarming” Brickner said.

    The Jaycees will present the money to the city when funds are budgeted for the railing, Brickner said.

    “We want to see it appear in the budget first,” she said.

    The Jaycees, who hope to pick the community cause for the second Land Regatta by the end of the year, are the second civic group to help fund the railing. The Port Washington Woman’s Club has also pledged $1,000.

    City Administrator Mark Grams said he isn’t sure whether money will be placed in the city’s 2015 budget for the railing, noting that officials are looking into other grant opportunities to help pay for it.

    The Department of Natural Resources suggested the city apply for a boat infrastructure grant that could be used for the railing, Vanden Noven said. The city could receive as much as $100,000
from this fund, he said.

    While many people support the idea of adding a railing along the 1,000-foot-long promenade, not everyone thinks it is necessary.

    The Coal Dock Park promenade was created without a railing to keep people away from the edge of the water, in large part to offer maximum flexibility when large ships dock there.

    The walkway was built especially wide — 18-1/2 feet — to ensure people can enjoy the walkway and lake but stay away from the edge.

    But when the park opened, the lack of a railing became a notable omission for some people, including members of the city’s Parks and Recreation Board.

    They recommended that the city install a railing, saying it is an essential safety measure that needs to be in place to prevent visitors, especially young children, from falling into the west slip, where the currents make the water dangerous.

    Vanden Noven said the proposed railing would match the existing rail, but would be constructed about four feet from the edge of the promenade.

    “If people wanted to fish off the edge or get on or off a ship docked there, they could,” he said.

    Gates would be placed to allow people easy access to the dock, he added.


 
Commission backs marine sanctuary plan PDF Print E-mail
Community
Written by KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM   
Wednesday, 10 September 2014 20:08

City officials will write letter of support asking NOAA to designate area between Port and Two Rivers for project

    The Port Washington Harbor Commission on Monday threw its support behind an effort to create a marine sanctuary that would stretch from Port to Two Rivers.

    Commission members agreed to write a letter of support asking that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration designate the 875-square-mile stretch of Lake Michigan between the two
communities as a sanctuary.

    Mayor Tom Mlada said he is seeking letters of support from community groups, residents and other interested parties to support the sanctuary application.

    “We want to show there is broad-based support for this,” he said, adding the city will hold a public forum on the proposal in October.

    Commission members asked a few questions following a presentation on the proposed sanctuary by Mayor Tom Mlada, who attended an anniversary celebration recently at Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary and Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Center in Alpena, Mich.

    Of NOAA’s 14 existing sanctuaries, Thunder Bay is the only one on the Great Lakes, Mlada noted.

    “It literally and in many ways, transformed the community,” he said, noting the center brings in an estimated 80,000 visitors annually. “It’s difficult to overstate it — it would mean extraordinary things for us.”

    Mlada said a draft application for a local sanctuary is being completed by officials from four communities that would be part of it — Port, Sheboygan, Manitowoc and Two Rivers — and is expected to be forwarded to Ellen Brody, NOAA’s regional coordinator for the Great Lakes and northeast region by Oct. 3.

    A completed application is expected to be submitted to NOAA by Oct. 10, he added.

    The application for a Lake Michigan sanctuary is likely to be met favorably, Mlada said, noting he was approached at the celebration by NOAA’s national director.

    “He pulled me aside and asked me, ‘Where is your application, we’re waiting for your application,’” Mlada said.

    When it was first envisioned, Mlada noted, the proposed sanctuary was seen as being headquartered in one community.

    Now, it is being envisioned as a collaborative work between four communities, each of which would have a presence by NOAA, he said, adding that a headquarters will likely be placed in one community.

    “Each community will have some things,” he said. “Even if we didn’t get the main office here, the impact would be significant here.”

    If approved, this would be the first regional sanctuary for NOAA, Mlada added.

    The sanctuary being proposed by Port Washington and the other communities would center around the many shipwrecks in the area.

    Within the proposed sanctuary borders, there are 33 known shipwrecks, including the two oldest in Wisconsin, Mlada said. Seven of those wrecks are not far from Port Washington, and three are just north of the Ozaukee County line.


 
School district set to fell ash trees PDF Print E-mail
Community
Written by BILL SCHANEN IV   
Wednesday, 03 September 2014 18:01

Battle against borer means removing 40 infested trees around PWHS this weekend

    Told that there is no saving dozens of trees around Port Washington High School that have been ravaged by the emerald ash borer, the Port Washington-Saukville School Board cleared the way last week for the chain saws.

    JR’s Tree Service of Sheboygan is expected to cut down about 40 large ash trees on the south and west sides of the high school this weekend. The company quoted a price of $7,800 for the work, Jim Froemming, the School District’s director of business services, said.

    “The ash borer has hit this area harder than a lot of other areas in southeastern Wisconsin,” he told the board, which approved the tree removal.

    School Board member Brian McCutcheon said, “It’s the worst I’ve seen. They are dying from the top down. There are dead branches that could fall, but it’s also an eyesore.”

    The high school is near what appears to be the epicenter of the ash borer invasion in Port Washington, Jon Crain, the city’s arborist, has said. Trees in and along the Sauk Creek corridor show the most advanced signs of damage from the beetle, which has killed tens of millions of trees per state in the east-central part of the country.

    The City of Port Washington has treated some of its ash trees to ward off the borer but has cut down others, most notably in Upper Lake Park.

    The School District has no plans to treat its ash trees.

    “Trying to treat trees to protect them from the ash borer is very expensive, and there are no guarantees,” Supt. Michael Weber said.

    McCutcheon said, “A lot of these trees are so far gone it doesn’t make any sense to treat them.”

    The trees that will be cut down are on a hill off Webster Street that wraps around the high school and runs along the east side of the football field. Of particular concern is that some of the trees line an access road to the school and a road leading to the main entrance of the football field, where falling branches could be a safety hazard.

    Because the trees are on a hill, the stumps will be left in the ground to control erosion as recommended by the Stevens Point landscape architect firm Rettler Corp.

    The district plans a more thorough landscaping study but will wait until the future of the high school is decided.

    One option that is to be the subject of an upcoming referendum is to demolish about 70% of the school and rebuild on site, using portions of the wooded hills for new gyms and classrooms.

    The other option, according to a facilities study conducted by Bray Architects, is to build a new high school on a yet-to-be-determined site.


Image information: PORT WASHINGTON HIGH SCHOOL is visible through trees on the south side of the school off Webster Street because of defoliation caused by the emerald ash borer. At least 40 large ash trees infested with the borer in this area are expected to be cut down this weekend.                  Photo by Bill Schanen IV

 
City awarded another grant to help repair breakwater PDF Print E-mail
Community
Written by KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM   
Wednesday, 27 August 2014 17:41

Port will use $249,000 from DNR stewardship fund to upgrade entrance, walkway

    The City of Port Washington has been awarded a $249,500 grant from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources stewardship fund to help with its breakwater repair project.

    City Administrator Mark Grams said the grant will be used to improve the entrance to the breakwater, widening the walkway and making it handicapped accessible and adding a fishing platform.

    The award was half the amount sought by the city, Grams noted. This brings the total amount of grant money the city has received for the breakwater project to almost $750,000.

    This is a remarkable accomplishment, Mayor Tom Mlada said.

    “We managed to accomplish something that, just a year ago, no one thought we would achieve,” he said Tuesday.

    The city is seeking to raise more than $1 million in grants to supplement the $950,000 in repairs being done by the Army Corps of Engineers. Mlada noted that, even though the city has received almost $750,000, it is only halfway to meeting that commitment.

    That’s because the city’s agreement with the Corps requires that the money be spent to reinforce and cap the steel-cell portions of the breakwater, he said.

    A $500,000 recreational boating grant received by the city would be used for that purpose but the stewardship money is earmarked for work near the entrance to the structure.

    The city is expected to learn soon whether it will receive a $500,000 Community Development Block Grant, Mlada said.

    The Common Council on Tuesday held an informational meeting on that grant, which would also be used to reinforce and cap the steel-cell portions of the breakwater.

    News of the latest grant award comes as the Army Corps of Engineers winds up its work laying armor stone along the steel cell portion of the breakwater, a move that will absorb much of the energy of the waves and protect the deteriorating wall.

    The money from the Corps is being used as a match for the grants sought by the city — something Mlada said will make it possible to do repairs without burdening city taxpayers.

    “That was the beauty of the $950,000 from the Corps,” he said. “Without that money, not only were we not getting any armor stone, we wouldn’t have any money to leverage.”  

    The city will continue to seek grants to pay for the bulk of the breakwater repairs next year, Mlada said. The first priority is to complete work on the cap in the steel cell areas of the breakwater, completing its commitment to the Corps, he added.

    Its next priority is improving the west end of the breakwater, improving accessibility and adding a fishing platform.  The final portion of the project, improving the east end of the structure by installing a concrete cap and railings, is likely to be done in 2016 if the city receives the needed money.



 
Public input helps shape downtown vision PDF Print E-mail
Community
Written by KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM   
Wednesday, 20 August 2014 19:40

Crowd of residents, business owners gives Port planners ideas on how to develop six city sites for future use

    More than 85 people turned out Monday night to help Port Washington planners create a new vision for six sites in downtown.

    Their goal, said Mayor Tom Mlada, was to give a fresh look to the sites and come up with concepts for what they want and don’t want on these properties to create a vision that will lead development now and into the future.

    “We can either take the opportunity now or let it slip through our fingers,” Mlada said. “We can direct the growth or we can react to it.

    “Other communities around us are defined. Port Washington is still defining itself.”

    Developers who have looked at various sites in the downtown have estimated that new developments could add $20 million to $25 million, he added.

    Whatever development may result from the process will likely be done over time, Mlada said.

    “I think you’re looking at a phased-type approach,” he said, noting it may take some time before some of the property owners are ready to sell or redevelop their land.

    “I think there’s a possibility for some of these things to happen short-term, but I think it will take some time for it all to happen.”

    Development of one or more of the properties could spur additional development, Mlada added, given the proximity of several sites.

    “These could be truly catalytic,” he said.

    Mlada noted that the sites examined by the group Monday were culled from about 10 redevelopment sites examined by the city’s Community Development Authority.

    The crowd, broken into small groups, considered four development sites — a large site encompassing the Jadair Inc. property at 235 W. Grand Ave. east to Wisconsin Street; the north end of the Port Harbor Center at 222 E. Main St.; property occupied by Victor’s Pier Street Shanty at 301 E. Pier St. and a parking lot to the east; and the Portabello Pizza property at 218 E. Washington St.

    They also looked at two public open spaces — the parking lot at the north end of the north slip marina and Main Street from Milwaukee Street to the lake.

    The sites offer a variety of development points, representatives from Community Design Solutions, the city’s downtown planning consultant, said.

    The Jadair site has a densely wooded area, creek access and limited views of Lake Michigan in a part of downtown seldom noticed by residents, said Amber Piacentine of CDS, while the former grocery store at the shopping center, located steps from the marina “is an awesome location. The fact it’s been vacant so long is kind of baffling.”

    The other two development properties are also located near the lakefront, she noted.

    The parking lot could become an entry to the marina and a focal point on the lakefront, Piacentine said, while Main Street could be closed to traffic and be converted to a destination with enhanced markets and events year-round.

    The groups came up with a number of potential uses for each property, CDS’s Ryan Shortridge said, offering a quick look at options mentioned by several groups after the brainstorming session.

    For example, the Jadair site was often referred to as a multi-use property with residential uses and the potential for artists lofts or a performing arts center, he said.

    The shopping center has potential as a micro-brewery or banquet hall, perhaps with residences above, he said, adding several groups suggested the building be divided to offer lakefront views and access.

    A banquet hall or permanent public market were among the suggestions for the Victor’s property, Shortridge said, adding it has the potential to become “an iconic site,” while the pizza property was frequently mentioned as a place where residences or a drive-through coffee shop could be created.

    The north slip parking lot could be beautified and enhanced with a playground, water features like a splash pad and a bike rental facility, he said.

    CDS will analyze the ideas suggested by the group Monday, then create a concept plan for the areas, Mlada said.

    The group is expected to bring its ideas to the CDA as early as Sept. 15, then present them to the Common Council the following day, he said.

    The city is considering holding a public meeting prior to the council meeting so residents can look at the results and comment on them, Mlada added.


 
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