Port turns heads with plaza, partnership

City, Port Main Street Inc. receive state award for Heart of the Harbor project that was funded by $270,000 in donations, built by municipal employees

THE HEART OF THE HARBOR plaza on the far east end of East Main Street in downtown Port Washington earned Port Main Street Inc. and the City of Port a state award for best public-private partnership. The plaza, which has benches, bike racks, picnic tables, a sitting wall, metal sunshades, landscaping and a fire feature, opened last year and is expected to see plenty of traffic this summer. Press file photo
Ozaukee Press staff

Port Main Street Inc. and the City of Port were honored Friday for creating the Heart of the Harbor plaza in downtown Port.

They received the Wisconsin Main Street program’s 2022 award for best public-private partnership in downtown revitalization.

“A vibrant downtown is crucial to a community’s overall economic development as well as the quality of life for its residents, and we commend Port Washington Main Street for being among the best in the state when it comes to strengthening its downtown,” Missy Hughes, secretary and CEO of Wisconsin Economic Development Corp., said.

The award noted that the partnership between the city and Main Street brought to life a concept of turning an underused piece of land into a needed gathering space with four-season appeal.

Main Street’s all-volunteer committee, it noted, “worked tirelessly to design, plan, source materials and raise the $270,000 needed for the project, then enlisted the city’s help in writing grants and complete the construction work.

“This collaboration shows an immense passion for the Port Washington community,” the award notice states.

City Engineer Rob Vanden Noven said the project was a true partnership.

“I think the effort they (Main Street) gave was very uncommon,” he said. “Other than with Possibility Playground, I’ve never seen a fundraising and volunteer effort like that.”

City crews worked on the project in addition to their normal assignments, Vanden Noven noted.

“The culture here is we’re looking for ways to get things done rather than looking for reasons not to,” he said. “It was a total team effort.”

The project, Vanden Noven added, is something that everyone involved can take pride in, adding that the effort stems back years.

“It’s really transformed the area. It’s something they can take their families to and enjoy, and it showcases their talents in ways they don’t always get to use them,” he said of the city employees. “These are the achievements I think our employees will look back on for a long time with pride. The expertise they brought to the table made the project better.

“I think this is something that will really bring extra life down there.”


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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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Port Washington, WI 53074
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