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Latest Harbor Campus plan satisfies Port design board PDF Print E-mail
Daily News
Wednesday, 10 January 2018 18:55

Facade of facility won’t change but new building would be farther from homes

    A revamped plan for the renovation of the Harbor Campus senior living facility on Port Washington’s north side were recommended for concept approval Tuesday by the city’s Design Review Board, which last month panned the proposal.
    The plan unveiled Tuesday still make no improvement to the campus’ Walters Street facade, but does move a proposed three-story, 66-unit independent senior living apartment building that will be constructed south of the current facility.
    By moving the new building to the east, it will be at least 60 feet away from neighboring houses on Holden Street — significantly more than the 20 feet required by code and the 35 feet proposed by property owner Capri Senior Communities last month.
    The plans also altered the configuration of a rectangular retention pond on the southwest side of the property, turning it into two smaller, undulating water features.
    “We believe we took into account all your feedback,” Amy Schoenemann of Tarantino & Co. told the board.
    “I think it’s a huge improvement,” board member Jorgen Hansen, an architect, said.
    Board member Marc Eernisse said he particularly liked the changes to the retention pond, especially since it will become a feature on the land with a gazebo and bridge to be added in the future.
    “I like what you’ve done with the pond,” he said.
    Hansen suggested that landscaped islands be added to the current parking lot outside the Harbor Club, while Vanden Noven suggested additional landscaping in the parking lot for the new building.
    “It seems like a lot of hard surfaces,” Vanden Noven said.
    The plan is a far cry from the sweeping overhaul of the property proposed by Capri last year — a plan Schoenemann said turned out to ultimately be too costly to implement.
    While the original plan would have made changes to the facade of the original building, a former hospital turned senior living facility, and created a grand entrance on Walters Street, the revised plan does little to alter the exterior of the original structure.
    Now, the plan is to create a master entrance near the Harbor Club, extending and enhancing the driveway on the west side of the property to the south and adding landscaping.
    The expanded driveway, which will include a new parking area near the Harbor Club, will lead to the new senior apartment building, which will have underground parking.
    Future phases of the plan call for an expansion of the existing memory care unit, and several smaller multi-family, independent-living buildings on the southeast side of the property.
    There is no timetable for these additional buildings, Schoenemann said.
    The revised plan will be considered by the Plan Commission at its 6 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 11, meeting.Daily Press

Ballot deadline looms for School Board change PDF Print E-mail
Daily News
Written by BILL SCHANEN IV   
Wednesday, 10 January 2018 18:53

PW-S officials who aim to address vacancy by changing the way one member is elected still collecting signatures

    The Port Washington-Saukville School Board’s efforts to fill a long-vacant seat by changing the way one of its members is elected hinges on whether officials can collect enough signatures by a deadline this month.
    School officials need the signatures of 500 district residents in order to ask voters for permission on the April 3 ballot to create an at-large seat that can be filled by anyone in the district.
    The board would remain at nine members, and the new seat would replace one that currently represents a small section of the towns of Saukville and Grafton. That seat has been vacant since October 2015, and with only about 350 registered voters living in this area, a candidate to run for the position, or even a person willing to apply for a board appointment, has been elusive.
    Board bylaws currently call for the board to consist of five members from the City of Port Washington, two from the Village of Saukville and one each from the Town of Port Washington and the towns of Saukville and Grafton. The proposed change would only affect the Saukville-Grafton town seat.
    Although board members represent specific areas of the district, all voters may vote for all candidates. For example, a Village of Saukville resident may vote for a City of Port Washington School Board candidate.
    Supt. Michael Weber said this week that the district has collected about 400 signatures, although some petitions are outstanding. The district must review the petitions and purge the names of non-district residents who mistakenly signed it, he said.
    The petitions must be presented to the School District clerk and a resolution authorizing the ballot question delivered to Ozaukee County Clerk Julie Winkelhorst 70 days prior to the April 3 election in order for the proposed change to be included on the ballot.
    If school officials are successful in presenting the change to voters and the measure is approved, it will not take effect until the three-year term of the current town of Saukville-Grafton seat expires in April 2019.
    “You wouldn’t think getting 500 signatures would be that difficult — the board didn’t think it would be — but it turns out it takes a lot of time,” Weber said.
    The issue isn’t that residents are opposed to the change, he said, but that it takes time to explain the issue to residents being asked to sign the petition.
    The School Board had intended to propose the change on the April 2017 ballot but fell short of the 500 signatures needed to present it to voters.
    This time around, board members have been circulating petitions at events where the proposed change can be explained to a number of people at once and petitions are available to sign.
    A vacant Saukville-Grafton town seat was not always a problem. For 16 years it was occupied by Jim Eden, who served as board president for two of those years before resigning in March 2014.
    The board appointed Paul Krechel in July 2014. Krechel ran unopposed in the April 2015 election but resigned in October of that year.
    Despite the district’s efforts to find an appointee to fill the seat, as well as an April 2016 election that failed to attract a registered or even a write-in candidate, the seat has remained vacant since Krechel’s departure.Daily Press

Dangerous Port intersection to get flashing light PDF Print E-mail
Daily News
Wednesday, 10 January 2018 18:52

Police study concludes safety is an issue, particularly for pedestrians, at Grand Avenue and Webster Street

    A flashing red light and stop sign will soon be installed on Grand Avenue at Webster Street, near the Niederkorn Library and Port Washington High School.
    The installation of the light, recommended last week by the Traffic Safety Committee and the Common Council, is seen as a much needed safety improvement  in an area where there have been numerous accidents and near misses, some involving pedestrians.
    A five-day study of the intersection done by Police Officer Gary Belzer in late May — before school was out for the year — concluded pedestrian safety is a concern, Police Chief Kevin Hingiss, a member of the committee, said.
    In Belzer’s report, he noted that he observed numerous violations — failure to yield at the intersection being the primary one, followed by distracted drivers and then speeding.
    While officials often express concern that a new stop sign in an area where none existed before can be a hazard because people don’t expect it, the flashing lights will help ensure people pay attention to this sign, committee members said.
    “I think it’s definitely needed,” Hingiss said. “If you miss (the flashing sign), you shouldn’t be driving.”
    The sign will be similar to one at the intersection of Norport Drive and Wisconsin Street on the city’s north side.
    Traffic Safety Committee members debated whether the sign should be installed on the east or west side of Webster Street, ultimately agreeing it should go on the west side where a crosswalk currently exists.
    “At least if somebody’s passing on the right, they know someone’s crossing the street,” Hingiss said.
    “I think this will go a long way to increasing safety there,” Public Works Director Rob Vanden Noven said.
    The Main Street Design Committee has been looking at improvements to the area, including making some changes to the crossing, officials noted.
    “If the intersection is reconfigured at some time, it can be moved,” Vanden Noven said, noting the light is solar powered, not wired.
    The flashing stop sign is expected to be installed in spring, he added.
    The cost of the sign will be split between the city and Allen Edmonds, which recently sought a similar sign be placed at the crosswalk in front of its Seven Hills Road shop, Vanden Noven said.
    The city’s share of the cost, about $2,600, will be taken from the city’s contingency fund or added to the street repair borrowing, City Administrator Mark Grams said.Daily Press

Firefighter sniffs out house fire just in time PDF Print E-mail
Daily News
Wednesday, 10 January 2018 18:45

He smelled smoke in area after returning from practice

    Port Washington firefighters had a busy Monday night, attending not only the department practice but also fighting a chimney fire afterward.
    Fire Chief Mark Mitchell said firefighter Andrew Klopp went home from practice about 9:45 p.m. and smelled smoke in his Division Street neighborhood.
    He looked outside and saw smoke pouring from the roof of the house at 231 S. Division Street, Mitchell said. After calling 911, Klopp hurried to the house and notified the owners, Durand and Catherine Prescher, of the fire.
    While the Preschers quickly left the house, Klopp grabbed a fire extinguisher and tried to put out the fire, Mitchell said.
    When Assistant Fire Chief Steve Schmidt got to the house, he saw flames coming out of the attic around the chimney, he said.
    “It was a very labor intensive fire,” Mitchell said, noting much of the fire was on the roof and in a void between the roof and the second-floor ceiling.
    Firefighters had to open the roof up and pull down the ceiling in the second-floor bedroom to reach the fire, Mitchell said.
    Fire crews from Saukville, Cedarburg, Grafton and Belgium aided at the scene, while the Fredonia and Thiensville departments stood by at the fire house, he said.
    No one was hurt fighting the fire, Mitchell said, and it took firefighters about two hours to finish at the scene.
    Mitchell said officials believe a vent pipe from a freestanding wood-burning fireplace had over time “baked” the wood surrounding it near the roof, lowering the temperature at which it would ignite.
    “We suspect over the years the wood in the roof and structure baked to the point it finally ignited,” he said. “You don’t need a flame.”
    There was considerable damage to the house, Mitchell said. There was considerable charring to the roof structure and ceiling, and water traveled through the ceiling into the first floor. Firefighters tried to shield items on the first floor as much as possible, he said.
    The damage was largely limited to the front of the house, and a new roof will probably need to be installed, he added.
    “The guys did a great job,” Mitchell said. “It was just a tough, labor-intensive job to get to the fire.”
    Earlier Monday night, firefighters were called to 131 N. Park St., where a lateral water main apparently broke, causing water to leak inside the building.
    Property owner John Weinrich shut off the water inside the building, Mitchell said, while the city’s street department shut the water off at the street.Daily Press

Mayor to present his wheel tax plan next week PDF Print E-mail
Daily News
Wednesday, 03 January 2018 19:34

Mlada is looking for feedback on proposed $20-per-vehicle levy to help pay for road maintenance in Port

    Port Washington Mayor Tom Mlada will present his proposal for a $20 annual wheel tax to residents during an informational meeting scheduled for 7 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 9, at City Hall.
    Following the presentation, Mlada and Public Works Director Rob Vanden Noven will field questions from the crowd and listen to comments about the tax from the audience.
    “We’re really hoping for a good turnout and a dialog with residents,” Mlada said.
    Mlada, who unveiled his plan in November, said Tuesday he believes the wheel tax is an important component in the city’s plan to address deteriorating roads.
    The tax would not supplant the city’s current spending on roads but instead supplement it, he said.
    “We’re in a little bit of a hole right now, and we’re trending downward,” Mlada said, noting the city has projected it would take a $2 million investment annually for 20 years to fix all the roads that need repairs.
    “We can’t borrow for that. That isn’t sustainable,” he said. “We’re trying to increase the pool of revenue the city pulls in through development, but some of that will take 10 or 20 years to realize.
    “We can’t tax our way out of this, so we’re really forced to look at a limited plate of options.”
    The wheel tax, he said, is on that limited plate.
    According to the Department of Transportation, 19 communities and six counties in the state charge a wheel fee. They range from small communities such as Gillett and Lodi to large cities like Sheboygan, Beloit and Milwaukee.
    Communities determine how much the wheel fee is — it ranges from $10 in Tigerton, Iron Ridge and Kaukauna to $30 in Milton and Milwaukee County — but the money must be used for transportation needs.
    The money is collected by the DOT when drivers renew their vehicle licenses, although some plates are exempt from the tax, such as antique and collector plates, farm trucks and motor homes.
    The $200,000 Mlada estimated the city would collect annually would pay for resurfacing two-thirds of a mile of street, resurfacing and replacing the curb along one-third mile or completely reconstructing almost two city blocks.
    There is a proposal before the Legislature that would require communities to hold a referendum on a wheel tax before it is be imposed — and require communities where the tax is already in place to hold a vote on the issue.
    While some have suggested the city should wait to see what happens with this legislation before the city acts, Mlada said that isn’t the right course of action.
    “We don’t have that luxury of waiting,” he said. “We have to do what we think is right for our local community.”
    He compared the issue to the breakwater situation, saying that if the city waited for the federal government to fix the structure, nothing would have gotten done. But the city moved ahead and raised money for repairs to the breakwater, which is largely stabilized and improved.
    Mlada’s plan has met with mixed reaction, but he said he is commited to the wheel tax.
    “This is not a problem that’s going to fix itself or a problem that’s going away in time,” he said. “There’s no quick fix.
    “This isn’t the be all, end all solution. It’s a $200,000 revenue stream we could count on to help make a dent in the problem we have.”
    Many of those who have expressed reservations about the wheel tax don’t fully understand the issue, Mlada said.
    “Many of them feel there are other options,” he said. Some have suggested a sales tax be imposed, something cities cannot do, while others have suggested increasing property taxes to cover the full cost of road repairs, something the city is unable to do with the current levy limits.
    Some people have suggested selling city properties, Mlada said, but there are a limited number of parcels the city could sell.
    When the city does sell land, he noted, the funds are quickly spoken for with other unfunded needs.
    “The solution really does have to be cumulative. It’s going to have to be a multitude of things,” Mlada said.
    If the city does impose a wheel tax, it could set a sunset date on the tax, he said.
    “I think that’s a conversation for the council,” he said.
    Mlada said the comments made Tuesday will be taken to the Common Council’s Tuesday, Jan. 16, meeting, where he hopes aldermen will decide how to proceed with the proposed tax.
    “I’m hopeful in the next month or so we would adopt it,” he said, noting it takes three months after adoption for the state to begin collecting the wheel tax.Daily Press

Full slate of candidates running for PW-S Board PDF Print E-mail
Daily News
Written by BILL SCHANEN IV   
Wednesday, 03 January 2018 19:33

    The Port Washington-Saukville School Board, which will see two incumbents, including its president, step down this year, has a full slate of candidates running in the April election.
    Incumbent Brenda Fritsch and challengers Maureen McCourt Boylan and Aaron Paulin are running for two seats representing the City of Port Washington on the School Board.
    One of those seats is being vacated by Michelle Shinners, who is stepping down after six years on the board.    
    Fritsch, the vice president of the board, was first elected in 2012.
    McCourt Boylan, who recently resigned as executive director of Port Main Street Inc., is making her first run for the board, while Paulin, a social studies teacher at West Bend West High School, is making his fourth run in as many years.
    Also on the ballot is Douglas Mueller, who is the lone candidate running for a seat representing the Village of Saukville.
    That seat is being vacated by Carey Gremminger, who has been on the board since 2005 and currently serves as president.
    The deadline for filing nomination papers to run in the April 3 election was Tuesday.Daily Press

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