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Contaminants found in north slip parking lot PDF Print E-mail
Community
Written by KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM   
Wednesday, 09 March 2016 20:13

But city officials say minor levels shouldn’t be stumbling block in negotiations for Blues Factory project 

A recently completed environmental study of the north slip parking lot eyed for the Blues Factory shows that there is minor contamination of the former industrial site that is contained by the asphalt surface, which serves as a cap.

If the property is not developed, the city likely would not have to remediate it, the study states. But if it is developed, whatever soil is disturbed would have to be dealt with appropriately and the development would  likely serve as the new cap.

“The report looks pretty good,” Mayor Tom Mlada said. “There wasn’t the significant contamination we feared there could be.”

City Administrator Mark Grams agreed.

“There are some heavy metals, but they don’t seem to be concentrated,” he said, adding it does not appear that remediation would be a stumbling block to development of the property.

The city is negotiating with developer Chris Long to sell the parking lot for the Blues Factory, a Paramount Records-themed entertainment venue.

The city hired Konicek Environmental Consulting to conduct phase one and two environmental tests of the parking lot last spring, given the property’s previous life as a manufacturing facility — in part as home to the Wisconsin Chair Co., the parent company of Paramount Records.

Negotiations between the city and Long are continuing, Grams said, noting officials plan to meet with him this week.

“There are still things that have to be worked out,” he said. “We’re kind of getting to the nitty gritty.”

Finances have been the bulk of the negotiations so far, he said, noting work on a developer’s agreement for the project hasn’t started yet.

The potential remediation of the parking lot site is likely to be a topic of the negotiations. City officials have said they could potentially seek grants to pay for the work, although Grams said that if the contamination is minor that may not be necessary.

The Feb. 22 environmental report, compiled by Konicek Environmental Consulting, showed there was no methane or volatile organic compounds above regulatory standards.

Lead and another compound, PAH benzo flouranthene, were found to be above that level, the report states.

The major cause of concern is the PAH benzo flouranthene, which is a byproduct of combustion, said Greg Konicek.

The contamination that has been found is what is expected on a so-called brownfield site, he said, adding he would describe it as minor contamination.

“It’s almost commonplace in any pre-developed urban property,” Konicek said.

The Department of Natural Resources has opened a case file on the parking lot property, Konicek said, and will be seeking a report on the steps to be taken to close the case.

Retaining the parking lot as a cap would likely be enough to close the case file, he added, although any development of the property would reopen the case. The developer would then have to file a plan to deal with any soil that’s disturbed.

 
Dunwiddie remodeling project comes in over bid PDF Print E-mail
Community
Written by BILL SCHANEN IV   
Wednesday, 02 March 2016 19:43

Overrun for upgrades to elementary school might reach $300,000, but officials say other costs can be cut

The Dunwiddie Elementary School expansion and remodeling project slated to begin this spring is nearly $107,000 over budget with two proposals outstanding, according to bids approved by the Port Washington-Saukville School Board last week. 

With 37 of the 39 bids approved, the project cost stands at $3.76 million.

A total of $3.8 million has been earmarked for an addition on the westside Port Washington school, but that includes a contingency of $151,000. The working budget, minus the contingency, is $3.65 million.

Director of Business Services Jim Froemming said the deficit will probably approach $300,000 after the last two bids and various fees are accounted for, but officials are not concerned.

“As a matter of fact, we’re pleased with where the bids came in given how the construction industry has picked up,” Supt. Michael Weber said. 

The fear was that as the economic recovery stimulates the construction industry, contractors would become more selective and less likely to offer lower prices that were the norm during the recession, especially for relatively small projects like the addition at Dunwiddie Elementary School.

But in addition to receiving what they characterized as favorable bids, officials pointed out they still have a contingency and expect to more than account for a deficit on the Dunwiddie project with savings on the much larger and more expensive Port Washington High School project.

In April, voters approved spending $49.4 million on Dunwiddie Elementary School and the high school, which will undergo a sweeping renovation that includes the demolition and reconstruction of part of the building.

“Yes, we know we’re over budget by a little bit at Dunwiddie, but we’re approaching this as one big project, so if we’re over by $300,000 or so at Dunwiddie, that’s a small fraction of the total project cost,” Froemming said. “We know that if we need to make them, small changes in the high school project can save a substantial amount of money.”

Officials were encouraged by the bids for a retaining wall that will facilitate the construction of a three-story academic wing on the hill on the west side of the high school. The complex engineering project will require 85 pillars of reinforced concrete to be driven 25 feet into the ground, said Greg Sabel, director of construction management for CD Smith, the construction management firm hired to oversee the school projects. 

The contract for the project, which was estimated to cost $660,000, was awarded to Midwest Drilled Foundations of Waukesha for $545,000 — $115,000 under budget.

For the Dunwiddie Elementary School project, CD Smith was awarded $1.3 million of the $3.8 contracts approved by the board, primarily for concrete, masonry and steel work. According to the firm’s contract with the district, it can “self-perform” work on the projects, but its bids are evaluated by the district. All other bids are evaluated by CD Smith, which then recommends the top proposals to the board.

Officials said they were pleased that two Port Washington companies submitted low bids for work on the elementary school. A  bid of $314,100 for heating, ventilation and air conditioning work from J&H Heating and bids totalling $404,155 for earth work from Dave’s Excavation were accepted by the board.

In addition, the board accepted a bid of $59,496 from Cornerstone Carpentry Contractor of Grafton for finish carpentry work.

“I was very pleased to see local contractors  came through,” Weber said.

 
St. Mary’s roof campaign off to flying start PDF Print E-mail
Community
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 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or treasurer Julie Russell at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

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.

 
KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM PDF Print E-mail
Community
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.”

Mlada agreed.

“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.

 
Harbor Lights construction raises concerns about left turns PDF Print E-mail
Community
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.

 
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