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Share Your Ideas for Coal Dock Park Project

Ideas for the park and its uses are being solicited from the public.

The City of Port Washington will have two miles of walks on the lakefront after the completion of the coal dock project, according to plans shared at last night’s public information meeting.

The meeting was to update the community on the project and to solicit ideas about possible uses for the 13-acre coal dock park, parts of which are scheduled to be completed June 2013.

The entire 17-acre project entails work on two areas: the north coal dock and the four-acre south coal dock. The latter, which opened in August, includes a bird sanctuary and walking trails. The two parts are planned to be connected via a pedestrian bridge.

  • Comment: Mayor asks, "What else haven't we considered?" Share your thoughts in the Comment section.

Director of Public Works Rob Vanden Noven updated attendees on progress with the project. After the completion of engineering plans and bidding out and awarding contracts for the work, construction began last month to lay the foundations of a park on the former coal dock. The building of pedestrian bridges, paths and laying of sewer and water lines has begun.

Pathways, some parking, the large green space, boardwalks and some landscaping are scheduled to be completed by next June.

Some changes have been made from the proposed plans:

  • A pedestrian bridge from the north side of the dock to Rotary Park will not be built because it would need to be high or be operated manually to prevent the blocking of navigation, Vanden Noven said.
  • Also, a floating dock at the end of the park is no longer planned. The city determined it wouldn’t work because there is no breakwater protecting that area.
  • There is also a war memorial planned for the park. Approved by the planning commission and the council, it would be located on the southeastern edge of the green space near the boardwalks, according to Vanden Noven.

Once the project is completed, the lakefront of the city will be connected by walkways.

“We’re boasting over two miles of walkway along the lakefront, which is not too bad for a community our size,” Vanden Noven said.

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About 10 people besides coal dock committee members attended the meeting. Attendees were encouraged to share ideas for the park. More work on the project is scheduled to be completed after 2013, including some type of community building.

“Of course we do have a master plan, but we’re also looking for ideas for special events or permanent improvements,” Vanden Noven said.

One resident, Dan Micha, suggested that the city consider a planetarium for the park. It would be a year-round facility and would enrich the community educationally.

Another suggestion for an activity at the new park was to hold a kite festival.

Mayor Tom Mlada said the focus will shift to what will need to be planned for the area after the grand opening in June 2013.

“After June 2013, we need to look forward to 2020,” he said, referencing the mission statement for the project: By 2020, create a signature four-season public waterfront that serves the community and attracts regional visitors.

“What else haven’t we considered that will draw people out there?” he asked.

Robert B. October 18, 2012 at 06:18 PM
Good point, Kyle! I never thought about the berms not being accessible. LOL at Greg. Good one with the mountains comment. An amusement park would be cool though. I've thought about that in the past. A mini Coney Island.
Mary Boyle October 18, 2012 at 06:34 PM
I agree with Don in that the location of the park is too separate from our downtown. Without some kind of direct connection, any attraction built there will only take resources, money and people away from our downtown - which is already struggling to survive. However, I don't think we should connect it at all, via bridge from Rotary Park or trolley, because it won't be enough. Even if there was a bridge, it would still be too long of a walk for most people for casual, downtown foot traffic - and foot traffic is what we need to focus on. The park should be used for recreational purposes only (hiking/biking/x co. skiing paths, gardens,wildlife preserve,etc.) because it's distance from the downtown makes it suitable to those activities, yet it is close enough to downtown to draw people pursuing those kind of activities into our dowtown. The one Maritime Heritage Festival that was held on the north coal dock is a perfect example of why we don't want to put any major attractions there: many people were not willing to make the walk, and those that did complained of the disconnect from our downtown. I strongly encourage everyone to start at Smith Bros. and take a walk to the north coal dock, using either the street or the harborwalk or both. It's a nice walk - if that's what you're looking for. The area screams green space and, imho, that would be it's best use for our city.
Mary Boyle October 18, 2012 at 06:38 PM
I do like that kite festival idea, though:-)
Angie S October 22, 2012 at 10:55 PM
Including a boardwalk type atmosphere could be fun for all ages. Local artisans, restaurants, and talent could utilize the space to keep the downtown feel consistent on both sides. A permanent ferris wheel would give Port visitors a great view of not only the lake but our quaint downtown. I've often heard Port compared to the east coast and doing it tastefully could be a marketable tourist attraction.
Brandon W November 04, 2012 at 02:43 AM
I'm just wondering... is there now going to be access to the south pier as well? Where the harborwalk/promenade on that side of the north dock ends?

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