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Port Washington


Coal dock pavilion plan gets a boost from utility PDF Print E-mail
Community
Written by KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM   
Wednesday, 05 February 2014 19:31

We Energies’ donation puts memorial project on track to be built this spring

    A memorial pavilion planned for Coal Dock Park in Port Washington is likely to be built this spring.

    Organizers said Tuesday they are confident the pavilion will be built after receiving a $30,000 donation from the We Energies Foundation — a gift that brings their fundraising efforts to more than $60,000.

    The pavilion, which is being built in honor of 15-year-old Tyler Buczek and 24-year-old Peter Dougherty, who drowned off Port Washington in 2012, is expected to cost $90,000.

    The We Energies Foundation donation “knocked me off my feet,” said Joe Buczek, Tyler’s uncle and the person who spearheaded the fundraising drive.

    “My gut feeling is come springtime, we’ll be starting construction,” he said. “It would be awesome if it could be completed by Memorial Day, since it’s a memorial pavilion.”

    Mayor Tom Mlada announced the news at Tuesday’s Common Council meeting, calling it “an exciting day for us.”

    “I think we’re going to be able to deliver on that commitment to get construction done in 2014,” he said.

    Buczek said the community has been instrumental in making the pavilion a reality.

    “Without the help and support of everybody, I know it would never have gotten off the ground,” he said. “We’ve knocked on a lot of doors.”

    Individuals, businesses and clubs have contributed more than $22,000 toward the memorial, Buczek said, and a number of trade unions have offered to donate time and materials to build the pavilion.

     “What you’ve done is phenomenal,” Ald. Dan Becker said. “It’s going to be a wonderful memorial and an asset to the community.”

    Buczek said Tyler’s family has been overwhelmed by the support, both financial and emotional, of the community.

    “On behalf of the Buczek family, we want to say think you to everybody,” he said. “The overall support from the first day has been so wonderful. It’s amazing how much people have supported our entire family though this.”

    Buczek noted that anyone who wants to purchase a memorial brick at the pavilion must place an order by March 1. More information is available at the website http://tylerbuczek.donationbricks.com.

    Tax-deductible contributions toward the memorial may also be made at City Hall, 100 W. Grand Ave.



 
Breakwater group draws crowd at first meeting PDF Print E-mail
Community
Written by KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM   
Wednesday, 29 January 2014 18:11

Organizers of effort to repair lakefront structure encouraged by public response at informational session

    Organizers of a “save the Port Washington lighthouse and breakwater” campaign said they were pleased with the turnout at their initial meeting on Saturday.

    More than 30 people gathered at NewPort Shores restaurant for the session, which was billed as an informational meeting and an opportunity to rally people around the cause.

    “I was really impressed by the people who were there and encouraged by their input,” said James Meyer, one of the event organizers. “We thought, ‘Let’s get the ball rolling in every direction we can,’ and that’s what we did.

    “I think people want to get involved. This is a no-brainer. When I got home, I started getting calls and messages from people outside the area asking what’s happening. People are already asking when is the next meeting.”

    Meyer, along with Sandi Van Sistine of Green Bay and Mary Jo Joyce of West Bend, created the Great Lakes Safe Harbor Preservation Foundation and are applying for non-profit status for the organization, with the aim of raising money and promoting efforts to repair the deteriorating breakwater.

    Joyce, who is president of the organization, told those gathered that although the Army Corps of Engineers, which owns the breakwater, has known for at least the last decade that the structure is in poor condition, it has done nothing to fix the problem.

    “The only way to get the attention of the federal government is to organize and raise money,” she said, noting significant portions of the breakwater have failed. “Nothing will happen unless we kick and scream.”

    Ald. Bill Driscoll said the city welcomes the group’s efforts.

    “The city can’t do this on its own. This group can’t do this on its own,” he said. “We need a multi-pronged approach. They can’t ignore the people.

    “We are not only behind this group, this group is absolutely necessary.”

    Meyer, vice president of the group, said that many of those attending Saturday’s meeting have become volunteers, offering ideas on how to move forward.

    “I was really impressed with some of the one-on-one comments and suggestions,” he said.

    The group is planning a follow-up meeting in late February, he said.

    Organizers plan to meet with officials from We Energies on Feb. 4 to enlist their help in the campaign, Meyer said, and will talk to businesses in the city in the coming weeks.

    A silent auction for photos of the breakwater and lighthouse held in conjunction with Saturday’s meeting raised $800, Meyer said.


 
Breakwater group draws crowd at first meeting PDF Print E-mail
Community
Written by KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM   
Wednesday, 29 January 2014 18:11

Organizers of effort to repair lakefront structure encouraged by public response at informational session

    Organizers of a “save the Port Washington lighthouse and breakwater” campaign said they were pleased with the turnout at their initial meeting on Saturday.

    More than 30 people gathered at NewPort Shores restaurant for the session, which was billed as an informational meeting and an opportunity to rally people around the cause.

    “I was really impressed by the people who were there and encouraged by their input,” said James Meyer, one of the event organizers. “We thought, ‘Let’s get the ball rolling in every direction we can,’ and that’s what we did.

    “I think people want to get involved. This is a no-brainer. When I got home, I started getting calls and messages from people outside the area asking what’s happening. People are already asking when is the next meeting.”

    Meyer, along with Sandi Van Sistine of Green Bay and Mary Jo Joyce of West Bend, created the Great Lakes Safe Harbor Preservation Foundation and are applying for non-profit status for the organization, with the aim of raising money and promoting efforts to repair the deteriorating breakwater.

    Joyce, who is president of the organization, told those gathered that although the Army Corps of Engineers, which owns the breakwater, has known for at least the last decade that the structure is in poor condition, it has done nothing to fix the problem.

    “The only way to get the attention of the federal government is to organize and raise money,” she said, noting significant portions of the breakwater have failed. “Nothing will happen unless we kick and scream.”

    Ald. Bill Driscoll said the city welcomes the group’s efforts.

    “The city can’t do this on its own. This group can’t do this on its own,” he said. “We need a multi-pronged approach. They can’t ignore the people.

    “We are not only behind this group, this group is absolutely necessary.”

    Meyer, vice president of the group, said that many of those attending Saturday’s meeting have become volunteers, offering ideas on how to move forward.

    “I was really impressed with some of the one-on-one comments and suggestions,” he said.

    The group is planning a follow-up meeting in late February, he said.

    Organizers plan to meet with officials from We Energies on Feb. 4 to enlist their help in the campaign, Meyer said, and will talk to businesses in the city in the coming weeks.

    A silent auction for photos of the breakwater and lighthouse held in conjunction with Saturday’s meeting raised $800, Meyer said.


 
Firm hired to study breakwater options PDF Print E-mail
Community
Written by KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM   
Wednesday, 22 January 2014 20:10

Port council agrees to spend $15,000 for company to create preliminary design for repairs, explore funding options

    The Port Washington Common Council on Tuesday agreed to move ahead with a streamlined breakwater improvement study officials hope will pave the way to repairing the deteriorating structure.

    Acting on a recommendation from the Harbor Commission, aldermen agreed to spend $15,000 on the study, which will look at potential funding sources and create preliminary designs for the repairs.

    The study will be done by Foth Infrastructure and Environment and Smithgroup JJR.

    “This will get the ball rolling,” Mayor Tom Mlada said. “We’ll begin with some meetings almost immediately.”

    That could start as early as Wednesday, when officials from the Wisconsin Coastal Management Program were to meet, he said.

    Ald. Bill Driscoll, who has been at the forefront of the city’s fight to get the breakwater repaired, said the hiring is essential to the effort. He noted that he wrote to the governor’s office, and said the reply was difficult to interpret.

    “We definitely need somebody who knows what they’re doing,” Driscoll said. “This is exciting. We’re going to get some action.”

    The deteriorating condition of the Port Washington breakwaters has concerned officials for years, but has become a priority for the city in the past year.

    Although the structures are owned by the federal government, they are an integral part of the city infrastructure and protect much of the lakefront and downtown from the extremes of the lake.

    The Army Corps of Engineers, which owns the breakwater, last summer analyzed the condition of the structures and concluded that almost the entire eastern half of Port Washington’s north breakwater is structurally unsound and dangerous and should be rebuilt as soon as possible.

    Corps officials told the city that the Port breakwater is one of the worst they’ve seen, but said that the agency has little funding to repair it.

    Repairing the breakwater will cost an estimated $16 million, they said.

    A major hurdle is the fact that the city’s harbor is not considered a commercial port, since they are the Corps’ priority.

    Mlada, who in November traveled to Washington, D.C., to lobby for funding for the repairs, said officials made it clear that they expect communities to provide some money to offset the federal costs.

    The study authorized this week is expected to help the city find state grants that it could use as its share of any breakwater project.

    Officials from Foth told the city they plan to bring representatives of the various funding agencies to the city so they can see firsthand the condition of the breakwater and the need to repair it.

    “Getting them here gets them vested in Port Washington,” Brian Hinrichs, lead environmental scientist for Foth, told the commission. “If they’ve been here, if they’ve heard you explain the problem and seen the problems for themselves, it makes a big difference.”


    In addition to seeking financing, the study will look at design options for the breakwater and ways to make the repairs in phases. It will see how repairs can dovetail with other harbor needs and create a conceptual master plan for the harbor.

    That conceptual plan should be added to the city’s master plan, Hinrichs said, because it will strengthen any grant application.

    “I’m confident we can pull together the money in a relatively short period of time,” he said.

    The city’s study will be funded by the marina, which has enough funds in its capital project budget to cover the cost.


 
Committee considers Coal Dock Park railing PDF Print E-mail
Community
Written by KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM   
Wednesday, 15 January 2014 18:10

Panel weighs safety concerns against cost in making recommendation on installation of promenade barrier

    A recommendation to install a railing along the promenade on the north side of Coal Dock Park was to be considered by the Coal Dock Committee Wednesday morning.

    City Administrator Mark Grams said Tuesday that he is hopeful the committee will recommend installation of a railing along the 1,000-foot-long walkway.

    In a community that’s increasingly concerned about waterfront safety, he said, the railing is seen by many as an essential safety device in an area where there’s nothing to prevent someone from tumbling off the dock into the lake, where strong currents are common.

    The park is a draw for tourists and residents alike, proponents of the railing note, since it was designed to be a regional attraction.

    The park has also received a significant amount of acclaim, including a recent award from American City and County magazine, which gave it a Crown Communities award.

    However, some people are concerned that the railing would detract from the lakefront views and take away flexibility that’s needed when large boats moor along the seawall.

    The promenade was built wider than normal — 18-1/2 feet — to ensure people can enjoy the walkway and lake but stay away from the edge, they note.

    Public Works Director Rob Vanden Noven, who is also the Coal Dock Committee chairman, said last year it would not be difficult to install the railing, noting the city considered adding one when designing the park.

    But while many people are in favor of installing the railing, not everyone is on board with the idea.

    “I have sensed that there’s a diversity of opinion about it on the committee,” Vanden Noven said.

    “For some people, it’s just a matter of priorities. I think it’s really going to come down to dollars.”

    There are committee members who believe other priorities take precedent, he said. Other amenities that the committee is working on include the installation of electric outlets and a park entrance sign, he said.

    One major stumbling block to the railing is funding, Vanden Noven said, adding this may cause some committee members to think twice about recommending its installation.

    The railing, which would match those along the city’s harborwalk, is estimated to cost $200,000.

    The city has about $100,000 remaining in Coal Dock Park development funds that could be put toward the railing, Grams said.

    Vanden Noven said he is talking to the Department of Natural Resources to see if it would amend the city’s existing stewardship grant for the park to provide additional funds for the railing.

    “I don’t know if that’s possible,” he said.

    The city could also apply for additional grant money, he said, noting these grant applications are typically due in November.

    “I think eventually we could get a stewardship grant for it,” Grams said.

    Last fall, Grams predicted that the railing would be installed this spring even though no money was placed in the 2014 budget for it, saying he believed there was enough support on the council to approve it.

    Vanden Noven said that the city has been approached by the Port Washington-Saukville Jaycees about a possible fundraiser to help pay for a portion of the railing.

    The club is planning a walk-run to be held in conjunction with Maritime Heritage Festival in August, and has talked to the city about donating its proceeds to the railing fund, Vanden Noven said.

    But for many — including members of the city’s Parks and Recreation Board, which recommended last year that the railing be installed — the time to move ahead is now. The idea of going through a summer tourist season without it is the wrong thing to do, they say.

    If the committee recommends installing the railing, the Common Council could take action on the matter when it meets Tuesday, Jan. 21, Grams said.

    If approved by the council, work could be done this spring, he said.


 
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