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Port Washington


City may ditch coal dock roundabout plan PDF Print E-mail
Community
Written by Kristyn Halbig Ziehm   
Wednesday, 23 December 2009 18:15

Public complaints about proposal prompt Port officials to explore other options for South Wisconsin Street project

A plan to install a roundabout on South Wisconsin Street at the entrance to the coal dock next year is being reconsidered by Port Washington officials, who are also looking at ways to recreate the city’s southern gateway next year.

“The roundabout wasn’t really warmly received,” Public Works Director Rob Vanden Noven told officials recently.

“An alley comes right onto it, as does a driveway and the Interurban Trail. People asked if bikes would have to go through the roundabout if riders wanted to go north on Wisconsin Street.

“I think we’re going to go to plan B or C or whatever we can dream up.”

If approved, the proposed roundabout would be the city’s second. The other will be built at the crossing of highways 33 and LL when Highway 33 is reconstructed in 2011.

The Wisconsin Street roundabout was intended to be a gateway feature for the coal dock park development, Vanden Noven said, but there are other ways to accomplish that goal without a traffic circle.

Those include using pavers or decorative pavement or bump outs at the park entrance, he told the Board of Public Works earlier this month.  Creating a pedestrian island in the crosswalk leading to the coal dock entrance or installing a decorative archway or columns at the coal dock entrance are also being considered.

“The idea behind the gateway feature is to identify this as a specific place. We want it to be something people like, not something they think is a pain to drive through,” Vanden Noven added.

The comments were made during a recent public informational meeting on proposed road improvements for Division, Chestnut and Wisconsin streets and in written comments submitted after the session, Vanden Noven said.

People at that meeting also stressed the need for the city to divert traffic from Division and Chestnut streets and onto the new South Wisconsin Street when it is built through the current We Energies property next year.

Diverting traffic is essential to changing these streets from arterials to roads that service neighborhoods, they said.

The southern extension of Wisconsin Street will largely follow the existing construction road through the utility’s property. Traffic heading into the city will be funneled onto the street at Highway C and Sunset Road.

The Common Council last week authorized Vanden Noven to meet with county officials to seek changes to Highway C to accommodate the new intersection.

The proposed changes, which were reviewed by the Board of Public Works earlier this month, would include lowering the speed limit from 40 mph to perhaps 25 mph south of the interchange and creating a right turn lane to channel traffic onto the new Wisconsin Street. Traffic heading into Port on Division Street or turning onto Sunset Road would have to switch lanes to make those movements.

“People want us to make sure we do everything we can to channel traffic onto the new Wisconsin Street,” Vanden Noven said. “We’re projecting at least three-quarters if not 90% of traffic will use this street. Most traffic is going to want to take the Wisconsin Street route because their destination is going to be downtown.”

Board members debated how much to propose lowering the speed limit, something Vanden Noven said will need to be determined with additional study.

But board Chairman Tom Veale also suggested the best way to channel traffic onto Wisconsin Street might be to construct a roundabout at the intersection.

“They’re really expensive,” Vanden Noven said, primarily because they require more land than a traditional crossing. “This we can do within the existing footprint.”

 Vanden Noven said that during initial talks, the county was not overly receptive to the proposed reconfiguration of the crossing. He has not discussed lowering the speed limit with the county, he added.

 “I think this is a reasonable plan,” board member Mike Ehrlich said. “I’m all for this concept.”

 
City officials favor one-way Main St. plan PDF Print E-mail
Community
Written by Bill Schanen IV   
Wednesday, 16 December 2009 18:40

Port council to vote next month on county’s proposal to expand parking for center

Port Washington aldermen said Tuesday they want to cooperate with county officials by making West Main Street a one-way street in front of the county Administration Center.

The street proposal, which was introduced to the Common Council Tuesday and will be voted on next month, calls for making the one-block section of Main Street between Milwaukee and Wisconsin streets one-way heading east. That will allow for angle parking on both sides of the street and provide eight additional parking places.

There was no opposition to the plan from aldermen, but two downtown businessmen have raised concerns about the impact on traffic.

Joe Zankl, owner of the Port Hotel & Inn, which is across the street from what would become the one-way road, said he fears a one-way street will make it more difficult for motorists to navigate downtown Port Washington.

“It doesn’t make any sense to me. Nobody likes one-way streets,” Zankl, who was not at Tuesday’s meeting, said earlier. “We should be encouraging people to come to downtown, not making more difficult.”

Patrick Poole, owner of Poole Funeral Home, which is on the corner of Main and Wisconsin streets, has also expressed concerns.

But Ald. Dan Becker, who is also an Ozaukee County supervisor, said the city should cooperate with the county by granting its request for the one-way street.

“The county is a good partner with the city,” he said. “It’s a reasonable request. We’re going to increase parking and that will benefit the funeral home and Port Hotel.”

The county has recently increased its parking space by creating a lot where the old jail once stood on the west side of the Administration Center. County officials, however, said there is still a need for more parking, especially during special events like vaccination clinics held by the Public Health Department and University of Wisconsin Extension programs.

County Administrator Tom Meaux reminded city officials Tuesday that the county sacrificed parking spaces for aesthetics when it constructed its new lot.

“We could have reduced the green space and created more parking, but we opted for more green space. God, do we have green space,” he said. “We have been a good partner with the city.”

City Administrator Mark Grams said the county’s request, which was backed by the city’s Traffic Safety Committee, also benefits the city.

“I’m sure you’ve heard from people about the need for more parking downtown,” he told aldermen. “This would provide for that at no cost to the city.”

The only question aldermen raised was whether the one-way street should run east as planned or west.

Ald. Jim Vollmar said making West Main Street a west-bound road would make sense because the entrance to the road and access to the additional parking would be closer to and easier to access from the heart of downtown. If it become an east-bound street, motorists would have to drive west on Grand Avenue and go around the block to access the street.

But both city and county official said the street should be east-bound so traffic turns right from Main Street onto Wisconsin Street, then onto Grand Avenue at an intersection controlled by traffic signals. If the street were west-bound, traffic would have to make a left turn on Milwaukee Street and onto Grand Avenue at an intersection not controlled by traffic signals. 


MANY OF THE parking places in the Ozaukee County Administration Center parking lot and on West Main Street in Port Washington were full Tuesday afternoon. The county has asked city officials to make West Main Street one way heading east so additional street parking can be created. Photo by Bill Schanen IV

 

 
PW-S board backs talks to buy Simplicity land PDF Print E-mail
Community
Written by Bill Schanen IV   
Thursday, 10 December 2009 18:11

District to begin negotiating purchase of 44 acres in Town of Port Washington that could be used for school

The Port Washington-Saukville School Board on Monday jumped at the opportunity to negotiate the purchase of the Simplicity proving grounds, one of the few sites in the district that administrators say is suited for a school.

The board voted unanimously to have Supt. Michael Weber and Director of Business Services Jim Froemming negotiate with Briggs & Stratton Corp. for the purchase of the 44-acre parcel off Highway LL in the Town of Port Washington.

Weber said he hopes to present a proposed purchase agreement to the board in February.

The school district and Briggs & Stratton have yet to discuss a price, but the district recently received a fair market value estimate of $852,000 for the property — $528,000 for the land and $342,000 for a 10,800-square-foot manufacturing facility on the site.

The district has several financing options, the most attractive of which is an interest-free loan through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act stimulus package, Weber said. The district has applied for the loan and received indications it is a promising candidate for the program, he said.

The district is also in a position to pay cash for the property from its fund equity account, Weber said.

Although there is no immediate need for what would be the sixth school building in the district, administrators said the Simplicity proving grounds, acquired by the Milwaukee-based Briggs & Stratton in 2004 as part of its Simplicity purchase, represents an opportunity that shouldn’t be missed.

“Green space is so precious right now,” Weber told the board’s Building and Grounds Committee last month. “Let’s not miss the opportunity we have now.”

Current market conditions also make it a good time to buy property even if the district doesn’t need to use it for a decade or longer, officials said. According to Froemming, the fair market value of the property has decreased $150,000 since 2007.

Although the district owns 50 acres of undeveloped land in the City of Port Washington just north of Highway 33, the Simplicity property is a better site for a school because it is essentially flat, located between Port Washington and Saukville and has good access off Highway LL, Weber said.

The Simplicity site is small for a new high school, which requires at least 70 acres to accommodate a building, parking lots and athletic fields, but it is adjacent to undeveloped land the district could try to purchase.

The rolling property the district currently owns has limited access, is surrounded by subdivisions, and is generally considered an investment rather than a potential school site.

“I believe this is a nice piece of property for residential development,” Weber said. “As the market continues its upward swing, I think we’ll have people knocking on our door (to purchase it).”

The proving grounds, where lawn tractors and snowthrowers have been tested for decades, was identified as a potential school site by a district think tank created to study future school facility needs.

Froemming contacted Briggs & Stratton in November 2008 to express interest in the property, and received an indication that the company was interested in selling the land.

The Simplicity proving grounds represents the last vestige of a company founded in Port Washington that for decades made high-quality lawn tractors and snowthrowers here.

In October 2008, just four years after purchasing Simplicity Manufacturing, Briggs & Stratton closed the Port Washington factory on South Spring Street and moved operations out of state. The factory has since been sold and is being used primarily for storage.

Briggs & Stratton continues to use the proving grounds, and school officials have suggested the company could continue to use the property, perhaps through a lease or similar agreement, after the district purchases it.

 
City doubles fines for parking meter violations PDF Print E-mail
Community
Written by Kristyn Halbig Ziehm   
Wednesday, 02 December 2009 19:09

Port aldermen raise penalty to $10 but agree to allow two-hour parking on downtown streets

Parking scofflaws will have to pony up a little more cash for their fines if they are caught lingering too long in a space regulated by a meter.

The Common Council on Tuesday also agreed to allow people to park on North Franklin Street and East Grand Avenue in downtown Port for two hours instead of one.

The recommendation by the Traffic Safety Committee and Main Street Board was made to allow shoppers and diners to spend more time downtown, City Administrator Mark Grams said.

Aldermen approved increasing the fine for parking meter violations from $5 to $10, a move aldermen said would levy a single fine amount for virtually all parking violations.

The lone exception is for handicapped parking violations. Aldermen increased the minimum fines for these violations from $35 to $50. The maximum fine is $300.

The fine for parking violations that don’t involve parking meters have been $10 for several years, officials said, adding they don’t know why they city adopted a multi-tiered system.

If violators don’t pay their parking tickets within three days, the fine increases to $15. After 10 days, the fine is $20 and after 28 days it increases to $35.

Officials have said the single fine amount will simplify collection of fines, saying many people send in the incorrect amount and police must refund the excess or collect the additional money needed.

Grams said the police department is expected to bring in almost $35,000 from parking violations and permits — a small portion of the department’s $2.8 million budget —  although he did not have a breakdown of revenue from each category.

Monthly parking permits for municipal lots in downtown may be purchased from the police department for $15.

Police Chief Richard Thomas said last month that his department had issued 696 parking meter tickets and 368 overtime parking tickets, as well as 240 tickets for snow ordinance violations and 190 for parking in prohibited areas — all $10 fines except for the parking meter violations.

Using the two-tiered fine structure, the city would collect $11,460 for these tickets if the fines were all paid in a timely manner.

In 2007, the city’s revenue from parking tickets issued in the marina parking lot was $2,900 and fines and permits to park in municipal lots was $28,260 — most of that from fines, officials said.

In 2006, the department earned $2,115 from tickets in the marina lot and $31,379 in fines and parking permits, they said.

The city’s parking fines are in line with those in most other county communities, according to an analysis done by the police department. Parking tickets are $10 in Grafton, Fredonia and Thiensville, $20 in Cedarburg and $25 in Mequon.

Parking issues may continue to be a point of contention in the city. The Traffic Safety Committee was expected on Wednesday to discuss parking around the Ozaukee County Administration Center.

Grams said county officials are concerned about the amount of available parking on the two Wednesday mornings each month when the County Board meets.

To help alleviate concerns, Grams said, officials may consider eliminating two-hour parking restrictions on about eight spaces on Milwaukee Street near the Administration Center.

 
Commission backs ‘green’ subdivision PDF Print E-mail
Community
Written by Kristyn Halbig Ziehm   
Tuesday, 24 November 2009 18:44

Port officials give conceptual approval to proposal for energy-efficient housing development on city’s southeast side


The Port Washington Plan Commission last week gave conceptual approval to developer Mike Speas’ plan to create a “green” subdivision on the city’s southeast side.

“I think it’s a great project,” Public Works Director Rob Vanden Noven, a member of the commission, said. Other members echoed his sentiment.  

Although there are a smattering of individual energy-efficient houses being built in the area, City Planner Randy Tetzlaff said this is one of the first subdivisions to be proposed.

“It’s a manageable number,” Tetzlaff said of the proposed nine zero-energy ready houses to be built on about eight acres of land along South Division Street  that’s currently owned by We Energies. “The timing is appropriate, and the market, I think, is right.”

Speas told the commission he doesn’t know how rapidly the houses will sell, but added he’s committed to the concept.

The Terraces at Mineral Springs would have two parts, with the eco-friendly portion being built on nine lots created on five acres just south of Western Avenue and east of Modern Equipment.

“The idea is to create homes that can produce as much energy as they consume,” Speas said. “It’s a unique product.”

The lots would be 65 feet wide but deep, he said, and the houses built on them would reflect architectural details used elsewhere in the neighborhood, including gables that face the road, steep roofs, front porches and garages built behind the home.

“The idea is to take what makes Port Washington unique, the Port Washington look, and to create the look in a very energy efficient shell,” Speas said. “We want them to blend into the neighborhood. We want to be proud of the way these look.”

Stringent design guidelines would ensure that these homes would harmonize with others on the street, he said, and restrict such things as planting trees that would block solar panels.

A design review committee would ensure the guidelines are followed, Speas added.

One of the lots would contain an existing house that would be renovated with an eye toward energy efficiency, Speas said.

Each of the new houses would have features such as geothermal heating and cooling, a highly efficient building envelope and large windows and living spaces oriented to the south for passive solar heat.

The roofs would have the conduit and cables needed to support solar panels, but the panels would not be included in the basic house, Speas said.

Without the panels, he said, the houses will be about halfway to zero energy use. But once the panels are added, they will create the energy needed to operate the homes.

The houses would also have walk-out basements and lofts that are unfinished, as well as spaces for detached garages and the potential for carriage houses or apartments above or next to the garages.

The basic house price would be about $200,000, Speas said.

City Administrator Mark Grams questioned the lack of a garage.

“I imaging many people will prefer to have a garage built initially,” Speas said, but it wouldn’t be required. The goal is to build an energy-efficient home.

“I’d say don’t compromise on the energy efficiency of the house. Build that right, and then build the garage as you can afford it,” he said.

The second portion of the project would be a more traditional development on a three-acre portion of the property just north of Western Avenue, Speas said. Three large lots would be created, with houses built on the west end of these lots, tucked into the woods
and away from the transmission lines that cross the property, Speas said.

“I kind of pictured custom homes would be built there,” he said.
   
 
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