Written by KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM
Wednesday, 01 May 2013 17:54
Entryway addition to Lincoln School gets OK but only after commission questions if changes will enhance safety
An entryway addition to Lincoln Elementary School in Port Washington was approved last week by the city’s Plan Commission, but not before a debate about whether the measure will provide a secure enough entrance to the school.
The new vestibule will have a receptionist’s window where visitors are to identify themselves before being buzzed into the school through a locked door.
But commission member Earl Kelley questioned whether the glass used in the receptionist’s window was adequate.
“If someone wanted to get in through that window, could they?” he asked.
The window is intended to be laminated glass, Mike Ehrlich of 6E6S Architects said, noting it would make it difficult, but not impossible, for anyone to shatter and gain entry to the building.
Someone would have to strike the window multiple times with a chair before it would break, he noted.
“How much more would it cost to make that glass so no one could get in?” Kelley asked. “Anything to slow them down and make our children safe.”
Bulletproof glass would probably be the most difficult material to get through, Ehrlich said, but it is much more expensive than laminated glass.
The laminated glass would give school officials time to react to any intruder and call police, he said.
No window is unbreakable, commission member Bud Sova said.
“You can get through any window,” he added.
The debate ended when commission member Rob Vanden Noven, the city’s director of public works, noted that the type of glass used in the window isn’t something for the panel to debate.
“I think that’s a decision for the School Board to make,” he said.
The new entryway to Lincoln School is part of a school security initiative launched by the Port Washington-Saukville School District in the wake of the Sandy Hook School shootings in Newtown, Conn., in December.
As part of the initiative, the School District spent $11,100 to install electronic locking controls and video cameras at the main entrances to Lincoln and Dunwiddie elementary schools in Port Washington and Saukville Elementary School this spring.
The addition is planned at Lincoln School because it is the only elementary school where the main office is not adjacent to the entry, giving visitors immediate access to the school.
At Dunwiddie and Saukville schools, the entrances are next to the main offices, allowing secretaries to monitor who is entering the building.
The new 11-foot, 9-inch-by-17-foot entryway to Lincoln School will be created on the east side of the building, encompassing a portion of the green space next to the current entryway, Ehrlich said.
“The idea is to have this fit with the building,” he said, noting the materials and design will match those used on the existing structure.
Written by KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM
Wednesday, 24 April 2013 18:09
Port chairman says snafus with land-division meeting underscore need for change
It’s time for the Town of Port Washington to consider appointing a clerk rather than electing one, Town Chairman Jim Melichar said after a series of snafus regarding the scheduling of a meeting on a proposed land division last week.
Melichar said the Town Board will consider the change when it meets at 7:30 p.m. Monday, May 6.
Although he is conferring with Town Attorney Steve Cain to determine the steps needed to make the change, Melichar said it will require a referendum, possibly in spring 2014.
If approved, a clerk would then be appointed when Clerk Jenny Schlenvogt’s term ends in two years, he said.
This would be the second time in recent history the town considers appointing its clerk. In 2010, residents rejected the change by a 25-vote margin.
Melichar’s decision came as the Town Board considered a request by Ted Burbach to divide two lots off Dynna Drive.
The Town Plan Commission recommended approval of the certified survey maps that would divide the properties, and officials agreed the Town Board would consider the matter before the town’s annual meeting on April 16.
But Melichar said when he got to the meeting, he discovered no agenda had been posted by Schlenvogt and thus the board could not meet.
When he asked her why, Schlenvogt “got mad, yelled at me and stormed out of the room,” Melichar said.
“I thought it was my job to tell her what was going to be on the agenda, and her job to put out the agenda.”
The board agreed to reschedule the meeting for Thursday, April 18, he said, and he put together an agenda for that night.
The board met and took action, but after the meeting discovered that it had not been properly noticed, Melichar said. He had posted the agenda at Town Hall, but did not provide notice to Ozaukee Press, the town’s official newspaper.
The board then rescheduled the meeting for Monday, April 22, and notified Burbach of the error. On Monday, the Town Board unanimously approved the land divisions.
Melichar said he’s always believed Schlenvogt was doing a good job, but his faith in her has been shaken.
“I feel terrible about what happened. I thought we were all on the same page,” he said. “We can’t have an elected official causing this much havoc.”
Schlenvogt said she didn’t post an agenda for the April 16 meeting because she didn’t receive the certified survey maps ahead of time.
“In the past, we made sure we had the materials before scheduling a meeting,” she said, adding she notified supervisors Jim Rychtik and Mike Didier there would not be a meeting but couldn’t reach Melichar.
She would not comment on Melichar’s statement about a confrontation, but said she wasn’t feeling well that night so she left before the annual meeting.
Schlenvogt said she didn’t know Melichar had rescheduled the meeting for Thursday until receiving a text message that night. She was at another meeting and could not attend, she said.
Schlenvogt said she was surprised to learn Melichar is planning to look at appointing the next clerk.
“I believe I’m doing my job as required of me,” she said. “I believe I’m comunicating properly. I do have a lot of responsibiities on my plate.
“I don’t think the board disrespects me. I thought we had a good working relationship.”
Written by KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM
Wednesday, 17 April 2013 17:08
Concerns with aesthetics, environmental hazards prompt Port board to explore ways to tighten regulations
Concerned with aesthetics and potential environmental hazards, Town of Port Washington officials last week began considering ways to beef up its junked vehicle regulations.
“We’ve had some complaints recently,” Town Chairman Jim Melichar told the Plan Commission April 11.
“There’s a farm on Highway H where they’re collecting tractors. They must have 200 along the fenceline. Some people think it’s a nuisance.”
Other members of the commission cited areas along Highway LL and Highway KK where abandoned vehicles can be seen littering the countryside.
While the town code prohibits the storing of junked vehicles, truck bodies, trailers, tractors and appliances for more than 30 days, it exempts farms from that regulation.
“That isn’t right,” Supr. Jim Rychtik, a member of the commission, said. “I’m zoned agriculture. I’m growing corn and raising pigs, so I can park cars? I shouldn’t be exempt.”
Today, farmers have some of the cleanest properties in the township, he noted.
Melichar said his concern springs not so much from aesthetics but from the potential for contamination if oil or gas from these junk vehicles drips onto the land and contaminates the soil and groundwater.
“I know this is going to bite us someday,” he said.
Plan Commission member Dave Murphy suggested the town get rid of the exemption.
“If they have a car they’re just too lazy to get rid of, is that right?” he asked.
But Supr. Mike Didier, a member of the commission, warned that it may not be easy to enforce the regulations.
“If we start to enforce this, are we poking a hornet’s nest?” he asked. “The first guy you drag in here is going to come in with a list as long as his arms of properties with junked cars.”
Rychtik said that isn’t the right reason not to do anything.
“I don’t think we’re saying we’re going to go on a witch hunt,” he said. “But we need a better ordinance so we can enforce it.”
“If we don’t say you can’t do it, you can’t enforce it,” commission member Randy Noll said.
Building Inspector Rick Fellenz noted some people use old vehicles as art. If the town makes an exception for this, he said, everyone will claim their abandoned vehicles are art.
Although the commission seemed reluctant to take action, Melichar said he expects the Town Board will refer the matter back to the panel for a recommendation.
Written by KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM
Wednesday, 10 April 2013 18:49
New design to link marina with downtown Port gets favorable review at meeting
A plan to reconfigure the parking lot behind the 100 block of Franklin Street was presented to a group of about two dozen downtown Port Washington business and property owners Monday and, unlike a previous concept, this proposal seemed to be accepted by virtually everyone.
The plan, created by the Main Street Design Committee, is intended to make the lot a safe, inviting area for pedestrians and motorists and to link the downtown with the city’s lakefront.
Main Street Executive Director Sara Grover said that in a survey done several years ago, marina users said there was one big barrier between them and Franklin Street merchants.
“That barrier was this concrete parking lot,” she said. “We need to change that.”
Only two spaces would be lost with the plan, which would incorporate two-way traffic throughout the lot, create a sidewalk on the west side of the lot behind Duluth Trading Co. and Schooner Pub and add a raised crosswalk leading from the alley next to Schooner Pub to the harborwalk.
The parking lot plans would dovetail with plans to improve the alley next to Schooner, turning it into a pedestrian way, officials said.
It would also incorporate landscaping around the edges and on the interior to camouflage dumpsters and transformers. Much of the landscaping would be bushes that would not block views of the lake.
But Elizabeth O’Connell suggested that the city plant large shade trees, trimming the lower branches to retain lake views but creating a canopy that would shade the lot and create an inviting landscape.
“If you want to provide any sense of the lake and greenery, you have got to put something up higher,” she said.
But Karen Poull, who with her husband Mark owns Schooner Pub, disagreed, saying it would block too many views. The lake view is what people want to see, she said.
The cul-de-sac on the east end of Main Street would be shortened, creating a sitting area with a feature — perhaps a fountain — in the center.
Architect Mike Ehrlich, a member of the Design Committee, said the group is continuing to look at ways to link the lot and lakefront with the Ozaukee Interurban Trail.
Electrical lines would be buried and the parking meters removed, likely replaced by a new kiosk system.
The plan will be reviewed by the city’s Plan Commission when it meets Thursday, April 18, and later by the Common Council.
If approved, it will then be sent out for engineering work and bids, Main Street Executive Director Sara Grover said.
The plan needs to be approved quickly, Grover said, because We Energies expects to bury the utility lines before the peak summer tourist season.
The rest of the plan would be implemented in fall, she said.
Funding for the project would be handled by the city’s tax incremental financing district.
Grover said the plan has already inspired some other downtown property owners to look at ways to clean up and improve their parking lots — most notably, the lot between Port Washington State Bank and the Port Harbor Center, where a survey is being done to determine ownership and a consideration made to burying the power lines.
Grover also updated the group on parking studies being conducted by the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission and Boston-based Nelson/Nygaard Consulting Associates.
The SEWRPC study is being done for the city, while Main Street and the city’s Business Improvement District commissioned the Nelson/Nygaard study.
Grover said the two agencies will work together to maximize the results of their studies, with work expected to begin by the end of April.
Nelson/Nygaard will hold a project kick-off meeting in late April, then meet with business and property owners to determine their needs, how they accommodate parking now and to hear of any future plans that might affect downtown parking.
The firm will also develop a survey to be filled out by downtown customers and visitors when they visit shops, Grover said. The survey will ask, among other things, whether people are aware of parking options.
At the same time, SEWRPC will collect parking data, such as traffic flow, and the number of cars in downtown lots on a daily basis. The agency will also look at how existing on and off-street parking is used.
Nelson/Nygaard will then analyze its data and that collected by SEWRPC and make recommendations to Main Street and the city. SEWRPC will review these and create an implementation plan, Grover said, noting this should be completed by late fall.
Image Information: A RENDERING SHOWS the changes that are proposed for the parking lot between the north slip marina and the 100 block of Franklin Street in Port Washington. The design is intended to be pedestrian and driver friendly while providing an enhanced view of the lakefront.