Survey says parking, lakefront development concerns

Respondents to Port tourism questionnaire consider lake city’s biggest asset, space for vehicles a problem


Ozaukee Press staff

The results of a recent survey conducted by the Port Washington Tourism Council may sound familiar to those who live in and around Port.

It lists as concerns parking in the downtown, development around the marina and the need to preserve the lakefront and historic downtown, as well as a need for more entertainment and dining options.

And it outlines the city’s assets, everything from its lakefront location to its small-town charm and friendly residents.

“The obvious thing we all know is Lake Michigan is our greatest asset,” Tourism Executive Director Wayne Chrusciel said. “We need to always keep that in mind.”

Chrusciel said he was surprised by some of the survey results, but not all of them.

“In a way, the survey reinforced what we believe and already know,” he said, referencing the finding by more than half the respondents that the lake is Port’s biggest asset.

But others were unexpected, he said, pointing to the finding that 23% of residents and stakeholders and 21% of visitors perceive there’s a parking problem.

“I was very surprised to see that. Most people coming to the Visitor’s Center mention how easy it is to walk around,” Chrusciel said. “Typically, someone visiting has no problem parking and walking three or four blocks.”

Whether Port has a parking problem in downtown and along the lakefront is an issue that has been debated for decades, and Chrusciel said that may have colored the resident response to the survey.

Some of the visitors responding may have been people from neighboring communities who have heard of the local debate, he noted.

Likewise, while most respondents cited the city’s small town charm as its third most mentioned asset — the lake and historic downtown rank one and two — many expressed concern that development could destroy that.

“Obviously there were a lot of people in the resident survey who mentioned development,” Chrusciel said, noting the survey was conducted as the City of Port was considering a proposal to construct Ozaukee Square, a downtown development that many opposed.

  Respondents also cited the city’s many parks as a strength, he said.

He would like to delve further into that question, Chrusciel said.

“We have so many different types of parks with different attractions in each that it would be interesting to know what specifically everyone likes,” he said.

Another area that respondents said is lacking are dining, lodging and entertainment options, Chrusciel said.

There was also a concern that stores aren’t always open when people come to  shop, he noted.

“We have to get creative on that,” Chrusciel said.

Chrusciel said he will provide a report on the survey results to the Tourism Council, as well as a task force of business owners, Port Main Street Inc. members and officials that the council formed to consider the responses.

The survey was intended to determine the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and so-called threats to tourism efforts.

The information drawn from the assessment will help the Tourism Council as it plans its marketing campaign for next year and is the first step toward creating a strategic plan to lead the city’s tourism efforts into the future, he said.

It can also be used to help create initiatives for the city’s tourism efforts and identify development projects that could enhance the community.

Chrusciel called the survey “a good first step” in creating a marketing plan for the Tourism Council.

“In the past, we often went by what we thought was true. This provides hard data for us to use,” he said.

“We’ve got a lot of opportunities here to really grow tourism. We’ve got some issues to deal with, but the attributes are very, very positive.”

A follow-up survey may also be considered, Chrusciel said, noting some key groups such as charter fishermen were lacking in the responses.

“It would be interesting to see what they would say in summer,” he said.

The survey, which was conducted in December, was answered by 245 residents or stakeholders, 91 visitors to the city and 32 people who sought a Visitor’s Guide to the city.


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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.

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Port Washington, WI 53074
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