PRESS EDITORIAL: The good, the bad and the ugly

Newspaper folk have been known to say there are only two kinds of editorials, those that view with alarm and those that point with pride. Here are a couple of each.

Point with pride: The bureaucrats of the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, those frequent targets of flak for everything from gridlocked highways to excessive land grabbing for adding lanes to highways to avoid traffic gridlock, are doing a favor for motorists in Ozaukee County with their plan to make one of the area’s most dangerous intersections safer.

The roundabout that will be built in 2022 is the perfect fix for the crossing of highways 33 and I in the Town of Saukville, where vehicles have collided for years, with resulting injury and, in several crashes, the death of drivers and passengers.

Roundabouts force traffic from opposite directions to slow down, yet keep it moving by making waiting at stop signs and traffic lights unnecessary. They all but eliminate T-bone collisions, the most costly and deadly highway accidents. As a side benefit, they lessen fossil-fuel pollution by limiting the engine idling of stationary vehicles waiting to cross traditional intersections.

The DOT has a made Wisconsin a leader in adopting the European import of the traffic circle, and the Saukville-Port Washington area has been a particularly fortunate recipient of this benefit, with the three smooth running roundabouts on the stretch of Highway 33 that connects the two communities.

View with alarm: Members of the Ozaukee County Board are ignoring logic, citizen demand and the responsibility of elected representatives to be as accessible to their constituents as possible in their stubborn resistance to changing the board’s meeting time from mornings to nights.

The vast majority of county boards and other elected governmental bodies of any kind in Wisconsin hold their meetings at night, and for obvious reasons: Most citizens work in the daytime hours and do not have the luxury of taking time off to attend public meetings and petition their representatives in person; what’s more, they are precluded from being candidates for election to a board that does not meet at night.

The County Board’s Executive Committee discussed the issue recently, with the ironic result that some of the members’ comments in defense of the status quo sounded like good reasons for change. One supervisor said the daytime meetings are desirable because he is more alert in the morning than “I am at 6 at night.” Another shared that he likes morning meetings because they allow him to spend evenings with his family. The inescapable takeaway from this is that the convenience of elected officials is more important than the convenience of the public that elected them.

To his credit, Supr. Joshua Haas of Fredonia disagrees and is pushing for the change to nighttime meetings. “I get more emails and phone calls on this issue than anything else we’ve considered,” he said. “A lot of people work during the day, 9 to 5.”

No kidding.

Point with pride: The Department of Natural Resources is recommending that the commercial harvest of whitefish permitted in southern Green Bay be more than doubled.

This is in response to an amazing increase in the Green Bay whitefish population from an estimated 6 million in 2008 to 16 million in 2018.

The DNR recommendation should be put into effect, not just to support a struggling commercial fishing industry, but to make available to the public more of Lake Michigan’s bounty, in this case the fish that many consider the best of all freshwater species for human consumption.

Sport fishing interests are usually averse to any increase in commercial fishing harvests, and will likely oppose this one. But commercial fishing for whitefish, despite the small accidental catch of sport fishing species such as walleye that accompanies it, is not a threat to the economic benefits brought to the state by sport fishing.

So, Kudos to the DNR, and also to the noble whitefish, which, according to scientists, has adapted to be able to feed on the mussels that populate the lake by the billions, giving some hope for a revival of an ecosystem that has been devastated by invasive species.

View with alarm: Will 2022 be the year that it can finally be declared that Port Washington’s downtown marina district is no longer a work in progress? It better be. Yes, it takes time to put together the tonnage of brick, mortar, concrete, steel and glass necessary for development on the scale of what is transforming the lakefront. But it’s been going on for years, and it’s time to get it done.    

Port residents and other visitors to the lakefront should not have to face another summer of having to navigate through torn up streets and sidewalks cluttered with Dumpsters, porta-potties, building materials and construction machines.

City officials should press contractors to get their projects done and clean up their mess by the time warm weather returns. The public deserves a construction pause to enjoy the lakeshore ambiance when the current condo projects are completed.

Another condo development in the marina district, on the hill overlooking Jackson Street, is delayed. But the construction site, a jumble of concrete rubble, tree debris and mud, is an eyesore that the city government should not tolerate.

It’s time to call the marina district a finished product—for a while at least.

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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.

125 E. Main St.
Port Washington, WI 53074
(262) 284-3494
 

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