Written by KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM
Wednesday, 06 August 2014 20:11
Port Board OKs details of project intended to improve both Highland Drive and county bike trail
The Town of Port Washington on Monday agreed to a plan to improve the Ozaukee Interurban Trail bridge on Highland Drive at an estimated cost of $295,000.
Although expensive, this was the least costly of three options presented to the town by its engineering firm, Ayres Associates.
The other options would require more extensive work and were estimated to cost as much as $325,000.
‚ÄúThis is the cheapest option and it also achieves the safety you want,‚ÄĚ Kris Anderson of Ayres told the board.
The plan would eliminate the bridge on Highland Drive north of Town Hall, lowering the grade of the road by 3-1/2 feet to improve sight lines for both motorists and bicyclists.
Town Clerk Jenny Schlenvogt questioned whether the reduction in grade was enough to improve safety, noting motorists ‚Äúfly‚ÄĚ through the area at 55 mph or more.
Anderson said it will bring the road into accordance with state requirements.
‚ÄúThere will still be a hill there,‚ÄĚ she said. ‚ÄúBut it will be a gentler hill.‚ÄĚ
Another alternative is for the town to reduce the speed limit, Anderson said.
Town Supr. Jim Rychtik noted the plan will improve safety, widen the road but have the least impact on surrounding properties.
‚ÄúI think that makes a lot more sense,‚ÄĚ he said.
‚ÄúThe lower you go, the wider the road has to be. I trust Ayres when they say 3-1/2 feet is enough. It‚Äôs dangerous because it‚Äôs narrow and you can‚Äôt see. The road is deteriorating. And with the box culvert the way it is, something has to be done.‚ÄĚ
Town Supr. Mike Didier said, ‚ÄúI don‚Äôt know why you have to do anything but the cheapest option.‚ÄĚ
The board will now have Ayres finalize plans for the work, then obtain cost estimates from the Ozaukee County Highway Department.
If the estimate is deemed higher than desired, the town can still opt to bid the project, officials said.
Who does the work will determine when the project is done, they added.
Ozaukee County would likely do the work in conjunction with improvements to the bike trail, which it is expected to do this fall.
If a private contractor is hired, the town will likely seek bids this fall and have the work done in spring.
Depending on cost, the town could opt to delay paving the road for a season, Rychtik said. That would allow the new road time to settle and give the town more time to come up with the money.
Written by KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM
Wednesday, 30 July 2014 20:05
Panel favors lifting cap, dealing with controversial issue on case-by-case basis
How tall is too tall for a downtown Port Washington building is a question that‚Äôs been debated for decades.
Last week, the Plan Commission recommended that the Common Council eliminate the current 61-foot maximum height restriction for downtown buildings.
The city shouldn‚Äôt set an arbitrary height restriction, members said, but instead consider each project on its own merits.
‚ÄúIt would be unlimited, in theory,‚ÄĚ Public Works Director Rob Vanden Noven, a member of the commission, said.
The city has learned a lot from its history in terms of dealing with tall buildings, commission members said, adding that officials will be guided not only by that experience but also public opinion.
‚ÄúIf you suggest a 95-foot-tall building, you‚Äôre going to be run out of town,‚ÄĚ said Randy Tetzlaff, the city‚Äôs director of planning and development.
Tetzlaff ran through a history of the height limitations, beginning in the 1970s, when the maximum downtown building height was increased from 35 feet to 85 feet.
There was a significant amount of controversy when the city approved the Lighthouse Condominiums on Lake Street, he said.
That building was allowed because it met the 85 foot limit and was on the outskirts of the downtown, where taller buildings were considered acceptable.
But due to the backlash from that project, the city repealed the overlay district that allowed it, Tetzlaff said, essentially allowing only 35-foot-tall structures.
But that was considered too restrictive as well, and eventually the city allowed developers to seek a special exception to the regulations that would allow a building to be as tall as 61 feet ‚ÄĒ the average height of the Harbor Square development on the southeast corner of Grand Avenue and Wisconsin Street.
Last year, the city approved a special exception for the proposed Harbour Lights development on Franklin Street, which will be about 50 feet high.
‚ÄúEver since, I‚Äôve had people ask why (restrict it to) 61 feet,‚ÄĚ Tetzlaff said.
If the city is scrutinizing projects while considering the special exception, he said, officials should be able to consider projects taller than 61 feet.
‚ÄúIf you‚Äôre going throught the process for a special exception, is there anything so special about 61 feet?‚ÄĚ he asked. ‚ÄúWe might want to just analyze the benefits of the project.
‚ÄúWhat if it is a great design and it‚Äôs 64 feet? Our hands are tied.‚ÄĚ
Commission member Bud Sova, who has been on the commission through several bouts of debate on the question of building heights, said a 1993 survey of city residents ‚ÄĒ taken after the Lighthouse condos were built ‚ÄĒ revealed that tall buildings were taboo.
Part of residents‚Äô frustration was that people were told the condo building would not rise above the top of the bluff, but that promise was broken, Tetzlaff said.
‚ÄúI can guarantee we don‚Äôt want to call (the building height limit) 85 feet,‚ÄĚ Sova said. ‚ÄúThat would block a lot of sightlines. It would be quite bad.‚ÄĚ
The issue of building heights goes back much further, he added, noting that there was a controversy years earlier when an elevator shaft was erected atop what is today the Holiday Inn Harborview.
That said, tall buildings can be attractive and tasteful, Sova said, adding there are checks and balances in place to ensure these structures are done well.
‚ÄúIt can be done. It can be done tastefully,‚ÄĚ he said.
The primary limitation, he said, is public opinion.
‚ÄúMoving forward, this council and this commission learned a lot,‚ÄĚ Tetzlaff said.
Written by KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM
Wednesday, 23 July 2014 17:51
Army Corps of Engineers scheduled to begin work that will include use of six vessels to haul, place stone
A crew from the Army Corps of Engineers is expected to arrive in Port Washington Saturday to begin repairs to the breakwater.
Jim Bonetti of the Corps of Engineers said last week that six vessels ‚ÄĒ a crane barge, two tugs and three flat scows ‚ÄĒ will be in Port for the project. They will dock along Coal Dock Park when crews aren‚Äôt working.
The tugs will shuttle stone from Manitowoc to Port Washington for the work, he said.
Crews plan to place 1,700 individual stones along the east end of the breakwater to shore it up, Bonetti said ‚ÄĒ a total of 12,000 tons of rock.
Each stone weighs between six tons and eight tons, he noted.
Crews will work eight days, then have six days off, Bonetti added.
There will be times when the breakwater is barricaded and people will be prohibited from walking on it, Bonetti said.
‚ÄúWe don‚Äôt mind people watching what we‚Äôre doing. It‚Äôs your money at work,‚ÄĚ he said, but crews want to keep spectators safe while the work is being done.
On weekends, he said, crews will work on the east end of the breakwater so tourists and residents can use as much of the structure as possible.
The project is estimated to last until Aug. 27, he said. While most of that time will be spent working on the north breakwater, which leads to the lighthouse, if there is time, crews will also do some work on the south breakwater, Bonetti said.
‚ÄúIt‚Äôs very exciting and fulfilling, after all our work, to have them come in and get going,‚ÄĚ Port Mayor Tom Mlada said. ‚ÄúIt‚Äôs not going to all be done in one season, but once you start to see work getting done, I think it will be a boon to the city.‚ÄĚ
Bonetti, who spoke at a public information meeting about the breakwater, said that he and other officials from the Army Corps were shocked at the rate of deterioration last year when they inspected the structure.
‚ÄúThis is probably the worst harbor in terms of the rate of deterioration,‚ÄĚ he said. ‚ÄúWe do see aggressive deterioration.‚ÄĚ
That‚Äôs due to not only the wave action that occurs day and night, but also to the freeze-thaw cycle that breaks apart stone and concrete, Bonetti said.
As surprised as he was by the condition of the breakwater, Bonetti said, he was equally surprised by how quickly the Corps found funding to stabilize the structure.
Generally, it takes three to five years for funding to be approved, he said.
The $950,000 allocated for the project isn‚Äôt a huge amount of money, he warned.
‚ÄúThat sounds like a lot of money, but in marine construction it‚Äôs not,‚ÄĚ Bonetti said.
That‚Äôs one reason the armor stone will only be placed on the lake side of the breakwater, officials have said.
Mlada said that one of the biggest misconceptions about the breakwater project is that people believe a new breakwater is being built.
That, he said, would cost $16 million.
‚ÄúWe‚Äôre not going to get a new breakwater. We‚Äôre going to get some work done immediately,‚ÄĚ Mlada said.
Brian Hinrichs of Foth Infrastructure and Environment, the city‚Äôs consultant, said the city has applied for several grants ‚ÄĒ a $566,000 stewardship grant from the Department of Natural Resources; a $500,000 grant from the Department of Transportation‚Äôs Recreational Boating Fund and $500,000 from the Department of Administration‚Äôs community development block grant program.
The city should know on Aug. 6 if it will receive the recreational boating grant, Hinrichs said. It will likely receive word on the other grants sometime in August.
The city will also apply for other grants to help finance the work, which will include widening the path for pedestrians and adding handrails ‚ÄĒ at least on the west end ‚ÄĒ making the breakwater handicapped accessible and building a fishing platform.
While work needs to be done on the east end of the breakwater as well, there isn‚Äôt a lot of grant money available for that purpose, Hinrichs said.
‚ÄúThat‚Äôs phase three,‚ÄĚ he said. ‚ÄúI don‚Äôt want anyone to have the impression everything will be fixed in 2014 and 2015.‚ÄĚ
Mlada said the city is working hard to obtain the needed funds to fully repair and improve the breakwater, and it plans to leverage the Army Corps funding to get grants from state and local agencies to do this.
‚ÄúOur goal is to use no city money,‚ÄĚ he said.
Mlada said he‚Äôs heard many people say the city has raised all the money it needs ‚ÄĒ and that‚Äôs another misconception.
‚ÄúWe need to continue working on this,‚ÄĚ he said.
Written by BILL SCHANEN IV
Wednesday, 16 July 2014 17:19
Solorzano hired to be assistant principal, dean at Port Washington High School
The Port Washington-Saukville School Board on Monday hired a suburban Milwaukee administrator to be an assistant principal and dean of students at Port Washington High School.
Daniel Solorzano will replace Dave Bernander, who is stepping down as assistant principal, and join a Port High administrative team that includes Principal Eric Burke and Athletic Director and Assistant Principal Thad Gabrielse.
Solorzano has been an assistant principal at West Allis Central High School for two years. Prior to that he taught Spanish at New Berlin Eisenhower Middle/High School and Pius XI High School in Milwaukee, Supt. Michael Weber said.
As dean of students at Port High, Solorzano will be primarily responsible for attendance and discipline. He will also oversee non-athletic extracurricular activities.
‚ÄúDan is a very likable person who connects well with students,‚ÄĚ Weber said. ‚ÄúHe has high expectations for students, and because students respect him, they respond well.‚ÄĚ
Solorzano graduated from Homestead High School in Mequon and earned bachelor‚Äôs degrees in Spanish, political science and international relations from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He earned his master of education degree at Concordia University Wisconsin in Mequon.
He has coached varsity football and wrestling at Homestead, Pius and New Berlin Eisenhower high schools.
‚ÄúDan was a football player and wrestler at Homestead, and one of his goals has been to get back into the North Shore Conference,‚ÄĚ Weber said. ‚ÄúHe‚Äôs pretty excited about being able to do that by coming here.‚ÄĚ
Solorzano, who lives in Mequon, will be paid $78,600 a year, Weber said.