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Southside trailer park land vexes Port officials PDF Print E-mail
Daily News
Wednesday, 17 January 2018 19:40

CDA members look for ideas on what to do with less-than-ideal parcel

    Port Washington officials are looking for a few good ideas on what to do with the city-owned former trailer park property on South Spring Street.
    While members of the Community Development Authority originally planned to hold a public meeting to solicit ideas for the 1-3/4-acre site, they decided Monday to scrap that idea.
    Members said they were unsure how big a turnout they would get, especially given sparse attendance at some recent city meetings.
    “I don’t know if a meeting would work. I went to the wheel tax meeting and no one was there,” CDA member Erica Roller said, noting that’s a hot-button issue in the community. “I was shocked.”
    Members are hoping for public input on future uses for the property, which the city bought in 2007 with the intent of redeveloping it.
    The parcel has some challenges, members noted. There are overhead power lines that traverse the lot, railroad tracks just to the east and a trailer park to the south.
    “Who’s going to want to live there or raise a family there with those high wires?” CDA member Rory Palubiski asked.
    Someone suggested it be developed as a “pocket neighborhood,” but Randy Tetzlaff, the city’s director of planning and development, said the numbers don’t work.
    “I think someone would consider doing it if the city would finance it,” he said.
    Through the years, Tetzlaff said, the city has received little interest in the parcel.
    One person wanted to place mini-warehouses on the property, he said, while another sought to purchase both the city land and the adjoining trailer park, consolidate the parcels and create an upscale mobile home park, but he couldn’t come to an agreement with the neighboring property owner.
    The CDA decided Monday to solicit ideas on the city’s website and elsewhere on social media, a concept lauded by Kim Haskell, 767 W. Grand Ave.
    “It might shake some ideas out,” Haskell said.
    Committee members agreed.
    “If we get one or two good ideas, it’s worth it,” Palubiski said.Daily Press

Ex-Grafton man survives bear attack, winds up in the spotlight PDF Print E-mail
Daily News
Written by JOE POIRIER   
Wednesday, 17 January 2018 19:37

Florida resident says he’s glad to be alive, surprised to be the subject of headlines

    After surviving a black bear attack last week, former Grafton resident Andy Meunier is glad to be alive and he’s even more surprised the story is making headlines around the world.
    “I can’t believe this is getting international attention,” Meunier said from his home in Naples, Fla.
    At about 11 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 9, Meunier was letting his Pomeranian out of the house when he was blindsided by a 250-pound bear.
    “When I was closing the door I heard the dog growl and jump back into the house, which I thought was a little odd,” he said. “When I turned around I saw a black bear pretty much in my face and I thought, ‘I got to get out of here.’ But before I could do that, the bear hit me in the face.”
    Meunier said the blow knocked him back into his home and he was able to secure the door.
    “I didn’t even realize, at the time, that I was bleeding until I looked in the mirror — then I felt like I was standing in a shower because the blood was running down my face,” he said.
    After calling 911, Meunier spent four hours in the hospital, and received 41 stitches to his face and right ear.
    “I never thought I was going to die because it happened so fast and I didn’t have any time to think about it,” he said.
    The Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission is patrolling the area surrounding his home at night and have set up bear traps with donuts for bait.
    “Unfortunately, when they find the bear they’re going to have to euthanize it,” he said, noting the bear has two cubs that are about 2 years old that will be relocated when they are found.
    The only other resident in the house at the time of the bear attack was Meunier’s 7-year-old daughter, who was startled when she saw her father.
    Meunier’s dog Howie came away from the incident unscathed.
    “He was smarter than I was. He got back in faster than I could,” Meunier said.
    Meunier said he had his stitches removed on Monday, and is currently on a regimen of antibiotics. Daily Press

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

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