Jaycees contribute $6,200 from run/walk but city has yet to fund safety measure
The Port Washington-Saukville Jaycees raised more than $6,000 for a railing along the promenade in Coal Dock Park — a cause near and dear to many of the organizers’ hearts — during the inaugural Land Regatta Run and Walk in August.
News of the donation came just weeks after the city learned that it did not receive a Wisconsin stewardship grant it had applied for to pay as much as half the estimated $200,000 cost of the railing, Public Works Director Rob Vanden Noven said.
“We’re going to search for other grant sources,” he said.
That means the railing, which has been an amenity sought by many since the park opened last summer, won’t be installed until at least next year, officials said.
And that will only happen if funding is found for the railing.
The importance of the railing was recognized by the Jaycees, who dedicated the proceeds from their first walk-run, held during Maritime Heritage Festival, to the effort.
“We wanted the run-walk to support a community project, and we thought this was something the community would be passionate about and something we care about,” said Christina Brickner, a Jaycee who organized the Land Regatta.
“The safety of the park is important to us. For us, having that railing is very important. Some of us don’t even go to that park because there’s no railing.”
Jaycees are people ages 18 to 40, Brickner said, adding that the core of the local group are people with young families.
Many of the more than 200 participants in the Land Regatta felt the same way as the Jaycees, Brickner said, adding the proceeds came not just from the race fee but donations as well.
One young boy brought in about $70, the money he raised from a lemonade stand, she noted.
“That was awesome, really heartwarming” Brickner said.
The Jaycees will present the money to the city when funds are budgeted for the railing, Brickner said.
“We want to see it appear in the budget first,” she said.
The Jaycees, who hope to pick the community cause for the second Land Regatta by the end of the year, are the second civic group to help fund the railing. The Port Washington Woman’s Club has also pledged $1,000.
City Administrator Mark Grams said he isn’t sure whether money will be placed in the city’s 2015 budget for the railing, noting that officials are looking into other grant opportunities to help pay for it.
The Department of Natural Resources suggested the city apply for a boat infrastructure grant that could be used for the railing, Vanden Noven said. The city could receive as much as $100,000
from this fund, he said.
While many people support the idea of adding a railing along the 1,000-foot-long promenade, not everyone thinks it is necessary.
The Coal Dock Park promenade was created without a railing to keep people away from the edge of the water, in large part to offer maximum flexibility when large ships dock there.
The walkway was built especially wide — 18-1/2 feet — to ensure people can enjoy the walkway and lake but stay away from the edge.
But when the park opened, the lack of a railing became a notable omission for some people, including members of the city’s Parks and Recreation Board.
They recommended that the city install a railing, saying it is an essential safety measure that needs to be in place to prevent visitors, especially young children, from falling into the west slip, where the currents make the water dangerous.
Vanden Noven said the proposed railing would match the existing rail, but would be constructed about four feet from the edge of the promenade.
“If people wanted to fish off the edge or get on or off a ship docked there, they could,” he said.
Gates would be placed to allow people easy access to the dock, he added.