Half-railing plan receives mixed reviews


City decision to install part of lake safety guard gets praise, questions from recreation board

The fact that a railing will be installed along half of the Coal Dock Park promenade pleased members of the Port Washington dockParks and Recreation Board — but the fact that the railing will only be installed along half of the 1,000-foot-long walkway frustrated them as well.

“It’s better than no railing,” board member Bryan Deal said March 10.

But noting that the city is borrowing $4 million for street projects, committee member Mary Ann Klotz asked, “Couldn’t one less street get done so this railing can get finished?”

The board has been advocating for the railing along the promenade since Coal Dock Park was opened three years ago, saying it is an essential safety device in an area where there’s nothing to prevent someone from tumbling off the dock into the lake, where strong currents are common.

The city has $100,000 in this year’s budget for the railing — half the cost of installing it along the entire promenade — and had initially placed the remainder of the funding in its proposed 2016 borrowing.

But earlier this month the Common Council decided to instead allocate the money for street projects.

This will give the city time to apply for a $50,000 grant to help finance the remaining railing, officials said, adding they hope to construct it next year. They also encouraged civic organizations and others concerned about the railing to help raise the funds.

Some board members asked whether the city could increase the borrowing to complete the railing, but Ald. Kevin Rudser, a member of the board, said the city’s roads are in such poor condition that they are a priority.

“We’re in need of repairing 20 miles of road. I think we’re doing four miles this year,” Rudser said. “We’re just falling more and more behind with the infrastructure.”

Ald. Mike Ehrlich concurred, saying, “Our streets are in terrible shape.”

Because the city budget is so tight, it’s difficult to find any extra funds for the railing, he added.

Deal questioned the high cost of the railing. The cost reflects the fact that it is maintenance free, Rudser noted, saving the city money in the long run.

It will also match the rest of the railing along the city’s harborwalk, he said.

Noting that aldermen said they hope to complete the railing next year, Deal asked, “What’s the guarantee it will get done?”

“There are no guarantees,” Rudser replied.

While board members were frustrated, they took comfort in the fact that at least a large portion of the railing will be installed this year.

“Our main focus is safety,” board member Patti Lemkuil said. “At least we’re making progress.”



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