Brewpub work to put squeeze on marina traffic, parking

City to close half of Washington St., eliminate parking for construction of Inventors set to begin soon

Construction of Inventors Brewpub on the parking lot at the end of the North Slip is expected to begin later this month or in early June. One lane of Washington Street will be closed and parking eliminated to accommodate the construction.
Ozaukee Press staff

The south side of East Washington Street in downtown Port Washington — the main road to the marina — will be closed to accommodate construction of the new Inventors Brewpub on the north marina slip parking lot just as the summer season begins.

But even though the city’s Public Works Board signed off on the closure Tuesday night, noting two-way traffic will still be accommodated on the road, marina officials said the biggest challenge won’t be traffic but parking.

That’s especially true since Inventors is being built on a parking lot and during construction there won’t be parking on Washington Street near the marina.

“On busy days, it’s going to be hard to find a spot,” Harbormaster Dennis Cherny said. “I don’t anticipate that will be a problem for our tenants, but on a busy day of fishing, it’s going to be a problem with people trying to find parking.”

Ald. Mike Gasper, who is a member of both the Harbor Commission and Board of Public Works, said the issue isn’t as much the lack of parking due to the Inventors construction as it is the fact that there’s been a gradual loss of parking in the area.

“I’m concerned that we keep eroding parking for the marina,” he said.

While Inventors is being constructed, he noted, seven marina parking lot spots will be taken up by a construction trailer.

“It’s not a huge number,” Gasper said, “And it’s temporary.”

Longtime Harbor Commission Chairman Gerald Gruen Jr. agreed, saying, “Parking is a major problem in the summer with the fishing and boating. We hate to lose any — we need more.”

Parking, Gruen said, has been a big issue for the marina for years.

“It’s just been little by little,” he said. “It gets more challenging every year. You lose a couple spaces here. You lose a couple spaces there. If you put it all together, it’s getting worse.”

It’s not just fishermen and boaters who use the parking, Gruen said. It’s also tourists, downtown workers and the new residents living in the marina district.

“It’s wonderful we have all this construction, but there are costs with it,” he said.

While parking studies undertaken by the city have shown there is adequate parking, Gruen said the studies are misleading because they take into account the winter, when few people use the lakefront lots.

“It’s seasonal,” he said of the need for more parking.

The city needs to look at options to improve parking in the marina district, he said, but those options are few and far between. He suggested the city reconfigure the marina parking lot and the overflow lot next to the current Inventors Brewpub at the American Legion clubhouse, or look at remote parking.

Marina officials said that they don’t anticipate the Inventors construction to be a major issue this summer.

That’s because parking on the north side of the street will be eliminated during the 11-month construction period, making room to accommodate two lanes of traffic on the north side of the street.

“It’ll have at least an 11 month impact on our community and the marina,” Public Works Director Rob Vanden Noven said.

He said the city and contractors spent a considerable amount of time trying to come up with the least disruptive plan, and, “We feel this is the best fit.”

Although the plan will limit parking on Washington Street, two-way traffic will continue and the change shouldn’t impede boat-trailer traffic in or out of the marina, he said.

Cherny said he does not believe that moving the lanes of traffic to the north side of Washington Street will affect marina traffic too much.

“That shouldn’t bother us. It’ll slow things down, but I think it will be OK,” he said, noting fishermen and other marina visitors can use Pier and Jackson streets as alternate routes.

“The big boats and trailers, they should be done soon,” Cherny said, noting most marina tenants will be in the water in the near future.

Gasper concurred, saying, “There are times it will probably get a little bit backed up.”

That’s hard to avoid, he said, given the location and the fact that summer is peak construction and fishing season.

“Anytime you’re building on a site like that, there are going to be some issues. It’ll be a little inconvenient,” Gasper said. “There’s still room for boats to get in and out of the marina.”

Members of the Board of Public Works also expressed concern about the need for pedestrian access while construction of the new brewpub is underway.

That’s because the plan is to partially close the sidewalk on the west side of the site — a five-foot area will be maintained as a public way — and the walkway on the south side of the building site will be closed.

Gasper said he didn’t want to see handicapped access to the harborwalk compromised.

“We can’t have it closed the whole summer,” he said. “It (a detour) needs to be labeled and it needs to be safe.”

Many people use the harborwalk, Gasper added, noting it is an important amenity for tourists and residents.

“If you could keep that open as much as possible from Memorial Day to Labor Day, that would be a big improvement,” he told Shawn Giffin, director of preconstruction for the Inventors project.

The board signed off on the road closure with the condition that handicapped access to the boardwalk be maintained from Memorial Day to Labor Day with any detour of the harborwalk be signed.


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Ozaukee Press

Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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