Breaking news: City officials discover lake views Print
News
Written by Ozaukee Press   
Wednesday, 29 November 2017 16:05

Eureka!
    A remarkable discovery has been made at City Hall. Port Washington officials have found the lake views that would be destroyed by the Blues Factory.
    The discovery is significant because some in the city government seemed to doubt the views exist. Others said that even if they do exist they aren’t worth saving.
     Now Plan Commission members are saying there really are views from the Blues Factory site at the edge of the marina that should be preserved and, what’s more, the development should be modified to enhance them. Even an alderman who is one of the last surviving Blues Factory advocates on the Common Council (others having been removed by voters opposed to the development) agrees.
    How to account for this discovery? Developers led the city to it.
    Readers couldn’t be blamed for thinking this is further evidence that Port’s elected and appointed officials listen more to developers than to the public. It is true that many citizens have told Common Council members and the mayor the Blues Factory should not be built on the marina site because it would shut off public lake views, and there were few if any signs the elected representatives were listening as they bent over backwards to accommodate the developer of the entertainment complex.
    But the developers the city is now listening to are speaking the public’s language. In their plans for a 10-unit condominium building on the Port Harbor Center property, owners Jim Vollmar and Don Voight are proposing that the adjacent Blues Factory be scaled back to allow expanded visual and physical lakefront access between the two buildings.
    As the plan for the Blues Factory stands, the building, which in an unfortunate play on the name of the enterprise is designed to resemble a factory, would be built close to the proposed condos with only an alleyway in between.
    Drawings of the handsomely designed condominium structure show the space between the buildings widened to accommodate an expanded public area overlooking the marina.
    The proposal is a waft of fresh air over the yearslong controversy. It already seems to have opened some eyes and some minds. It could do even more good for the community by serving as the impetus for a move to end altogether the threat of a commercial building on the marina site.
    That site will soon be virtually surrounded by high residential buildings, making it more necessary than ever that it remain under public ownership as an island of open space from which to appreciate the fortunate proximity of the downtown to Lake Michigan.
    The land, now a parking lot, is an ideal candidate to be improved as a “pocket park” (while retaining some space for much needed marina district parking).
    The term was used at a recent Plan Commission meeting by member Brenda Fritsch in some thoughtful comments on the Harbor Center condo proposal for enhanced public space. “There has been a huge concern about green space there,” she said, alluding to the enduring  public opposition to the Blues Factory. “These pocket parks are essential.” Praising the idea of preserving space for people to enjoy the waterfront and its views, she added, “A view only exists if you go down there and sit.”
    At the same meeting, Ald. Mike Ehrlich contributed the statement, “The entry to the harbor is pivotal.”
    That’s another discovery, a welcome one by a council member who has at every opportunity heretofore supported a brick and mortar impediment to that entry to the harbor.
    It’s time for another discovery at city hall, time to discover what is becoming more obvious by the day—that the north slip lot beside the marina, with its views and intimacy with the water, should not be taken from the public for an entertainment business.