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Port Washington


Harbor Lights construction raises concerns about left turns PDF Print E-mail
Community
Written by KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM   
Wednesday, 10 February 2016 20:06

Downtown fencing prompts request for temporary ban on moves by westbound traffic

The City of Port Washington should prohibit left turns at a key downtown intersection — for the duration of construction of the Port Harbour Lights project at the corner of Franklin and Main streets, the Board of Public Works was told Tuesday.

“It’s just dangerous,” said John Sigwart, 230 Theis St., who recommended that the city ban left turns for traffic heading west on Main Street at Franklin. “You’ve got people walking there along the fence, and you just can’t see oncoming traffic.

“I have to pull all the way out (onto Franklin Street) to see if someone’s coming.”

While it’s typical for motorists to have to inch out to check for oncoming vehicles, the situation at the corner of Main and Franklin streets is made more difficult by the construction fencing that extends into the roadway, Sigwart said.

The situation is exacerbated by the fabric that lines the fence, which keeps any construction debris from striking pedestrians and motorists but also makes it more difficult to see traffic, he said.

If someone wants to turn left — or south — at the corner, they can just as easily make a right turn and then a couple of lefts, he said.

But board Chairman Craig Czarnecki, a Port police officer, disagreed.

“If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my job, it’s that you can’t legislate common sense,” he said. “I don’t think it’s going to work.

“It’s going to be a mess.”

People who don’t notice the “No left turn” sign until they are at the intersection are likely to try and back up so they can make their way around, he said.

“We haven’t had any issues there,” Czarnecki noted.

While some people may try to ignore the “no left turn” legislation initially, Sigwart said there’s a simple solution. “All you have to do is put a ticket on a few people,” he said. 

Public Works Director Rob Vanden Noven said that Police Chief Kevin Hingiss had also recommended banning left turns at the corner. 

However, he said, City Administrator Mark Grams opposed the change, saying nearby businesses would oppose it because it would make it more difficult for patrons who use the parking lots that empty onto Main Street.

Board members suggested Sigwart discuss the matter with Hingiss and ask that the city’s Traffic Safety Committee take up the suggestion.

 
Plan to beautify marina area, address parking takes shape PDF Print E-mail
Community
Written by KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM   
Wednesday, 03 February 2016 19:21

Proposal that calls for entryway, Washington St. redesign, parking lot walkway will be unveiled at Feb. 17 forum

A preliminary design for Port Washington’s proposed marina district, intended to beautify the lakefront while enhancing access for boaters, motorists and pedestrians, will be unveiled at a public forum from 6 to 7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 17, at City Hall.

The plan, which was created by the Main Street Design Committee at the behest of the city’s Community Development Authority,  is a way for the city to help draw traffic from the downtown to the lakefront, officials said.

It is designed to maintain parking in the area while making the area easier to traverse and, in the process, eliminate the expanse  of asphalt that currently greets visitors, they added.

An outgrowth of the CDA’s downtown redevelopment planning, the marina gateway concept plan has been endorsed by the CDA and was well received by the Harbor Commission recently.

But the plan is far from final, City Planner Randy Tetzlaff said.

“This is just a concept plan,” Tetzlaff said. “We’re just trying to do the groundwork. This plan will be tweaked and reviewed and tweaked again before it’s finalized. We’re so early in the process, really still in the infancy.”

Despite the timing, the plan has been largely embraced. 

Amy Otis-Wilborn, who lives on Pier Street, told the CDA that she likes the plan but wished neighbors had more opportunities to comment as it was being created.

“It looks pretty good to me,” she said. “But there’s no reason for us to find out about this so late in the process. It’s our neighborhood.”

CDA member Rory Palubiski said the neighbors will have an opportunity to comment on the plan just as other residents will at the Feb. 17 meeting.

“We’re going to present the plan and let people chew on it,” he said.

The plan involves creating an entryway on Washington Street at Harborview Lane that would give people a feeling of place as they approach the lakefront, Palubiski said.

It’s recommended that a piece of artwork or signage denote the entry, he added, noting an archway won’t work because boats need to travel under it.

Washington Street would also be narrowed and parking, possibly perpendicular or angle parking, will be limited to one side of the street.

The intersection with Lake Street would be revised to incorporate a wider turning radius for boats and trailers heading into the marina.

Parking along Lake Street would also be altered, particularly between Washington and Pier streets, to allow more vehicles to use the area.

While the far south end of the marina parking lot would remain unchanged, the the area just north of that, off pier three, would have convertible parking stalls that could be used by boat trailers or cars, depending on the time of day. This would allow flexibility and maximize use of the lot, Palubiski said.

A pedestrian walkway would extend across Lake Street on the south and north ends of this parking area, allowing safer passage across the parking lot than currently exists. 

On the north end, this sidewalk would connect to an oasis of sorts, with greenery and a fire pit. This would extend to the north to the marina building off pier four, where a deck would be added.

The plan calls for the harborwalk to connect to the breakwater gateway area.

It also calls for the marina to eliminate the stairs leading from the parking lots to the boardwalk around the slips, providing a more accessible pathway for parents with drollers and people with disabilities.

The plan provides for roughly the same number of parking stalls in the area, Tetzlaff said — something that was important to officials. 

The city hasn’t developed cost estimates for the project or a timeline, Tetzlaff said, adding the earliest possible implementation would be next year--if the city finds funding for it.

 
CDA wants more say in how city is developed PDF Print E-mail
Community
Written by KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM   
Wednesday, 27 January 2016 18:21

Members say they should have been consulted before Ansay property negotiations

Members of the Port Washington Community Development Authority, stung by the December announcement that the city was negotiating the sale of 44 acres of land it owns to Ansay Development for a corporate campus, are seeking a greater say in how the city is developed.

Several members said at a recent meeting that they were surprised by the decision, which was made with little input from the public, and asked why their recommendation was not sought.

The CDA’s mission is defined as working on blighted properties and so-called brownfield sites, City Planner Randy Tetzlaff said.

The property that Ansay is eying is a parcel south of the We Energies power plant, undeveloped land that doesn’t fall within the CDA’s mission, he said.

Planning for these properties, known as greenfield sites, is designated to the Plan Commission, Tetzlaff said.

But CDA members said that the Plan Commission is generally an approval body, not an activist one. 

Their mission more appropriately should include planning throughout the city, they said.

“We’re not called the Community Redevelopment Authority,” member Erica Roller said.

Member Jason Wittek said that the city needs to do visionary planning, something that the CDA has experience in. He cited the group’s work in creating the downtown redevelopment plan.

“The greenfields are as important if not more important than these brownfield sites,” Wittek said.

Members asked if they could go beyond their stated mission to plan for greenfield sites, but Tetzlaff said City Attorney Eric Eberhardt “strongly advised” that they not do that.

Ald. Mike Ehrlich, chairman of the CDA, suggested that the group ask the Plan Commission for authority to look at planning for greenfield sites.

“We need to have an overall, encompassing plan,” he said. “Let’s get the Plan Commission’s take on it.”

“That makes sense,” Roller said. “Otherwise we’re over here doing our little thing and they’re over there doing their little thing.”

The CDA’s request is expected to be brought before the Plan Commission in March, Ehrlich said.

 
Port to start negotiations for new senior center PDF Print E-mail
Community
Written by KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM   
Wednesday, 20 January 2016 22:28

Council decides that talking with Aurora Healthcare about Grand Avenue clinic will help determine facility’s future

The Port Washington Common Council on Tuesday agreed to begin negotiations with Aurora Healthcare to acquire its clinic on the far west side of the city for a senior center.

But aldermen stressed that the negotiations are only a first step meant to determine how plausible a move to the site may be.

“This is like data gathering,” Ald. Dan Becker said. “This is just sitting down and getting the ball rolling. This is a long ways from happening.”

Ald. Bill Driscoll, a member of the Commission on Aging, said that the negotiations will determine whether it’s realistic to consider acquiring the clinic at 1777 W. Grand Ave. or if the city needs to look elsewhere.

“We want to be able to move forward to see if there are any possibilities there,” he said. “I do think it makes sense to at least investigate this.”

But Ald. Doug Biggs, noting that the facility acquisition and renovations could cost $1 million, questioned whether this is the right time to negotiate.

“Where’s that money coming from?” he asked. “Isn’t it disingenuous to negotiate with someone if you don’t have any funding sources?

“From a fiscal responsibility standpoint, I have real concern about negotiating without anything in my pocket.”

The city, he noted, has said it doesn’t want to be responsible for building a senior center.

The Commission on Aging and its ad-hoc committee have discussed fundraising,  Senior Center Director Catherine Kiener said.

“You can’t go out and ask for money without knowing what it’s going to be used for,” she said. “We know funds are tight. We want the city to partner with us.”

Beginning negotiations can only help further the fundraising, Ald. Dave Larson said.

“If we don’t have anything to shoot for, it’s much more difficult,” he said. “There’s nothing wrong with opening the door and seeing where it leads us. We need to keep our options open.”

The commission and committee have begun to identify potential grants for the senior center, Kiener said.

Many grants are only available to communities, Driscoll noted.

In addition, a survey about the senior center revealed that many people are willing to contribute to the purchase, she noted. They’ve already received a small donation that will be used by the Friends of the Senior Center to open an account for the capital campaign.

The survey was done last year after the city said it would not extend the lease for the current senior center at 403 W. Foster St. beyond June 2017.

The city made its decision based on the cost of the lease and the fact that numerous seniors said they are dissatisfied with the current center building, saying the parking is inconvenient and there are too many steps in the building.

The idea of buying the medical clinic for a senior or community center was endorsed by a number of residents at Tuesday’s meeting.

“I know there are people in the area of Port Washington who do not come to the center because of its location and the parking,” said Tim Lewein, a member of the senior center board.

“This would be a welcoming type of building for everyone,” added center board member Mary Niedermeyer.

The clinic seems to best meet all the center’s needs, several members of the Commission on Aging and ad hoc committee told officials.

It has between 12,000 and 15,000 square feet of usable space on one floor, is handicapped accessible and has plenty of parking.

The layout is conducive to a center, with a reception area at the entrance, and the entire building is wired for technology, a plus in today’s digital world, they said.

It is next to city-owned land that is slated for a ball park, making it an ideal site for a multi-generational facility.

“That’s a vision worth at least pursuing,” Commission on Aging Chairman David Owens said.

Several aldermen said they, too, like the location.

“I think the possibilities are tremendous,” Ald. Mike Ehrlich said. “I like the location. I think moving forward with baby steps is good.”

“We need to keep our options open,” Ald. Dave Larson said. “I do not want to close the door on anything.”

 
Marina district plan receives warm reception PDF Print E-mail
Community
Written by KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM   
Wednesday, 13 January 2016 18:58

Proposal for parking lot, formal entryway praised by Harbor Commission but changes are expected

A preliminary plan to create a marina district, complete with a formal entryway off Washington Street, was presented to the Port Washington Harbor Commission Monday.

Although the plan is still expected to be tweaked before it heads to the Common Council for approval, commission members gave a preliminary thumbs up to the concept.

“I think you guys did an excellent job with it,” Ald. Bill Driscoll, a member of the commission, said. “This looks nice.”

“I like it,” added member Tony Matera.

The plan, which has been in the works for about a year, is the brainchild of the Main Street Design Committee. It’s intended to not only beautify the area but make it more pedestrian friendly while retaining parking and traffic flow in the marina, Ald. Mike Ehrlich, a committee member and architect, said.

In addition to making changes to parking in the area, it would actually add a few spaces, he said.

The plan calls for a bump-out on the south side of Washington Street at Harborview Lane, where some sort of entryway would be created, perhaps using signs or a structure of some sort, Ehrlich said.

Instead of parking parallel to the curb on the south side of Washington Street east of Harborview Lane, the plan calls for parking at a right angle to the curb, which would maximize the number of spaces, he said.

There would be no parking on the north side of that block.

While the marina’s far south parking lot  would remain unchanged, the area just north of that, off pier three, would have convertible parking stalls that could accommodate 21 boat trailers and, when there aren’t many trailers, 42 cars, Ehrlich said.

City Administrator Mark Grams said this would likely maximize the use since the trailers typically use the lot in the morning, not in the afternoons or evenings.

A plaza with green space and a drop-off area would be created in the parking area off pier four, separating it from the southern lots, Ehrlich said. This would not only break up the sea of asphalt in the parking lot, it would also provide an area for a fire pit that could be used by marina tenants and offer better pedestrian access to the lakefront.

A walkway would extend from Washington Street into the plaza area.

“The idea is to create a better connection to the harbor, to create amenities that people can use and create an entrance to the marina that is nicer than all asphalt,” Ehrlich said.

Design committee member Adam Brown added, “Crossing that sea of asphalt with cars in it puts people on edge. Having that pathway is beneficial to everyone.” 

The plan also calls for a deck to wrap around the northern marina building that could be used by marina tenants.

Commission members suggested the committee consider making Washington Street one-way heading east. They said consideration also needs to be given to the creation of a loading zone at the current north-slip parking lot, which the city is considering selling for the Blues Factory.

Commission members suggested that the group look at creating additional trailer parking in a city-owned lot at the corner of Lake and Jackson streets, perhaps by eliminating the grassy parkway.

Ehrlich said there is no timeline for the work or any cost estimates, noting changes will still be made. The Design Committee is expected to tweak the concept before the Harbor Commission reviews it again on Feb. 8. 

 
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