PHOTOS: Fire Truck Ladder Offers Sample View for Proposed Tower
Friends of the Tower hope to build an observation tower in Upper Lake Park, something some alderman are behind but the mayor opposes.
In debating the merits of an observation tower proposed for Upper Lake Park, a central question has been whether the suggested 80-foot height offers a view worth the possible obstruction to neighbors and liability to the city.
For a firsthand observation, aldermen took a bumpy ride 80 feet up in a bucket at the end of a Port Washington fire truck ladder Saturday afternoon.
"I couldn't see downtown as much as I thought I would, but the harbor looks awesome," Ald. David Larson said after his trip up. "I think it would be a draw for the park."
In December, the Port Washington Plan Commission recommended approving the tower — which would be donated by a group who calls themselves the Friends of the Tower; the proposal could come before Common Council at their next meeting this month.
Mayor Scott Huebner was the only member of the Plan Commission to vote against the proposal, saying he had many unanswered questions about construction and maintenance. He also expressed concern that the height would bring liability and detract from other attractions.
"I just don't think you need to put something that high in someplace already so high in Port," Huebner said. "It would detract from other historical monuments."
While aldermen rode in the bucket on Saturday, Huebner went to the Light Station. He said he observed how the tower would obstruct the view from the Light Station, and said the city should instead attract visitors to the Light Station.
"It's a historic building that the city and the historical society have already spent a lot of money building," Huebner said.
Ald. Jim Vollmar was also concerned about the height; he thought it might be better at 60 feet.
"The view is good but not as good of the city as I expected," Vollmar said. "At about 60, I thought it was adequate. I don't think it was a big advantage with the extra 20 feet."
Port Washington resident Chris Karnish, who stopped to watch the ascent Saturday, said he would enjoy the tower but worried about safety. He thought the coal dock would be a better location.
"It would be neat to have one, but I would worry about kids climbing it and the city not being able to patrol it," he said.