City asks residents to chime in on lighthouse project

Meeting intended to inform, garner input on restoration estimated to cost as much as $2 million

THE RESTORATION of the Port Washington lighthouse, pictured on a warm July afternoon, will be the subject of an informational meeting on Sept. 14.
By 
KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM
Ozaukee Press staff

udget for repairs to the city’s iconic lighthouse next year, and they’re inviting the public to find out more about the process next week.

A public information meeting about the project will be held from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 14, at City Hall.

There will be a formal presentation on plans to repair the lighthouse to start the meeting, followed by a question and answer period during which people can give their input into the process.

“It’s a project with a high level of interest and we want to let people know we’re working on it,” Public Works Director Rob Vanden Noven said Tuesday.

“It certainly deserves the opportunity for public input and for people’s questions to be answered.”

The lighthouse was built in 1935 and ownership transferred from the U.S. Coast Guard to the city in 2017.

The structure was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2018.

Since the city took ownership of the lighthouse, it has talked of the need to make repairs, but the price tag is estimated at between $1 million and $2 million.

The biggest part of the expense is to repaint the structure, which has lead paint.

“It’s a complex process,” Vanden Noven said, due to the fact that the city will have to capture the lead paint particles so they don’t pollute the lake.

Other work to be done includes repairing the deteriorating concrete base and restoring the broken porthole windows.

The work, he noted, will likely be done using a barge and will require closing that portion of the breakwater around the lighthouse during the project.

The lighthouse isn’t unstable, Vanden Noven said.

“It’s structurally sound,” he said. “Ideally when (the project’s) done, the cracked and spalling concrete will all be replaced.”

The project is based on recommendations by Legacy Architecture of Sheboygan.

Vanden Noven said the city is doing engineering work for the project now, with anticipated plans — and a more firm cost estimate — expected by the end of October.

That will allow the city to consider financing the project in its 2023 budget, he said.

It will also allow the city to consider ways to potentially complete the work in phases, Vanden Noven said.

“We don’t know if phasing the project will work,” he said.

If the project is funded for 2023, Vanden Noven said the work will likely be done in summer, noting that weather in spring and fall isn’t conducive to working on the breakwater.

Next week’s public meeting won’t be the only one. Vanden Noven said he expects a second session to be held in late October or early November.

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Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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