Army Corps signs off on breakwater art project

Port commission also likes yacht designer’s plan to add color to structure

THE WEATHERED VERTICAL wall on the west end of the Port Washington breakwater would be beautified under a plan proposed by local yacht designer Bill Prince, who envisions each of the wall panels being painted a shade of blue using a ceramic coating. Prince colored this photo of the breakwater to show how the panels would reflect the various colors of the lake on any given day. The project, which has received approval by the Army Corps of Engineers, which owns the breakwater, would be paid for with private donations.
By 
KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM
Ozaukee Press staff

A plan by local yacht designer Bill Prince to turn Port Washington’s breakwater into a work of art is a step closer to becoming reality.

City Administrator Mark Grams told the Harbor Commission last week that the Army Corps of Engineers, which has jurisdiction over the breakwater, has signed off on the idea.

“They’ve given their blessing,” Grams said.

Prince’s idea of beautifying the breakwater by painting the vertical walls on the west end of the structure various shades of blue to reflect the colors of the lake was endorsed by the commission in July.

The painting, he said, could also become a tourist attraction.

“It seems to me those concrete walls are screaming out for a simple, elegant large-scale art installation that would become something that would draw people to the lakefront — especially since so many more people are using the breakwater since it was improved,” he said at the time

“The selection of subtle pastel blues and off-whites would ensure that no matter the season or sunlight, one of the large walls would nearly match the hue of the water or the sky. For those of us who enjoy our unique waterfront, it seems like a neat way to reflect nature’s ever changing colors in this man-made structure, to turn something that’s essentially an eyesore into an attraction.”

Prince has committed to doing the project without city funds. He doctored a photo to illustrate his concept and posted it on Facebook this summer and said 10 people agreed to pay $1,000 each to sponsor one of the 17 wall panels.

The $1,000 would include not just the paint job but a small bronze plaque that would be mounted on the wall to recognize the donor, he said. There may even be enough left over to put toward cosmetic touch-ups in five or 10 years, he said.

Harbor commission member Dan Laurence said Prince is currently trying to solidify those commitments.

He’s also talking to several firms about the paint, Laurence said. Because of the scouring action of the Lake Michigan waves, Prince has suggested that instead of regular paint, the project be done with Rhino Shield, which is billed as a long-term ceramic coating for commercial and residential buildings and has a 25-year warranty.

Commission members, who have been supportive of the project, said they would meet with Prince to review the final plans next month.

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