First a fix, then a splash of color

Repairs to storm-damaged breakwater pave way for painting of concrete panels in community-funded project spearheaded by yacht designer

A CREW ON TUESDAY worked to repair the ramp to Port Washington’s breakwater, which was damaged by high winds and ferocious waves during a January storm. The steel gateway pieces were constructed off site and then moved to the city for installation, a project city officials hoped would be completed before the July 4 holiday. This isn’t the only breakwater project in the works. Now that the gateway is repaired, the wall panels leading to the lighthouse will be painted in various shades of blue to replicate the colors of the lake. Photo by Sam Arendt
Ozaukee Press staff

The Port Washington breakwater will take on a colorful new appearance in the next couple weeks.

Bill Prince, who last year spearheaded an effort to paint the breakwater to reflect the differing colors of the water, said the paint job is expected to begin as soon as work on the breakwater ramp is completed.

“We’re ready to go,” he said Tuesday. “It  would be great if by mid-July we had that all spiffed up.”

Public Works Director Rob Vanden Noven said repairs to the entry to the breakwater should be completed by Thursday, July 2.

Prince said he has finalized the colors for the vertical wall panels, which will be painted in varying shades of blue to reflect the various colors of the lake.

The deepest blues will be close to shore and the palest colors near the white lighthouse.

The project is being paid for entirely through donations. Prince said he has more than enough sponsors to pay to paint the 17 panels.

Each sponsor will be designated with a small metal plaque on the short side of the panel, facing pedestrians. Because each panel has two sides, as many as 34 sponsors can be accommodated.

Any money raised that isn’t needed for the painting will be placed in a maintenance fund to keep the wall painted and neat.

The wall probably will need to be repainted every five to 10 years, Prince said, noting the paint that will be used is designed to withstand hurricane-force winds.

Prince, a local yacht designer, said last year that he got the idea for the painted breakwater from his travels to Europe, especially Greece where the white cottages contrast with the bright blue sea.

“I spend a great deal of time staring at the (breakwater) wall,” he said, noting his office is on the lakefront.

The idea, Prince said, is to reflect the ever changing colors of the lake in the otherwise drab concrete walls of the breakwater 

“One of those 17 wall (panels)  is bound to blend in with the sky and water,” he said, noting the color of the lake changes throughout the day.

The preparation work and painting will be done by Elegant Estates, a Port firm recommended by Sherwin Williams, which makes the paint that will be used on the breakwater.

Prince said  that, depending on weather, the project should be completed within 10 days of the ramp work being completed.

The breakwater painting is not the only project that could begin this year. 

Vanden Noven said bids to repair the far east end of the breakwater, a project officials said could cost between $1.3 million and $1.8 million, are due July 10.

The city has borrowed $750,000 and been granted a one-year extension on a $500,000 grant that will help pay for the work, he said.

The contractor would have until June 30, 2021, to complete the project, Vanden Noven said.

The far east end of the breakwater is the only section of the structure that hasn’t been upgraded since work began in 2014, when the Army Corps of Engineers laid additional armor stone to protect the deteriorating structure.

Since then, the cap along much of the breakwater and the entrance of the structure has been replaced and improved with amenities that include a wider, handicapped accessible walkway and a fishing platform.

Last year, aldermen agreed to install a concrete plank cap on the far east end of the breakwater, something its consultant said should last 30 to 40 years with proper maintenance.

Ten-inch-thick concrete planks would be grouted onto the existing cap. Steel armor walls will be added to create the form for the concrete and to shore up the structure.


Click Here to Send a Letter to the Editor

Ozaukee Press

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.

125 E. Main St.
Port Washington, WI 53074
(262) 284-3494


User login