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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.

Mary Baade October 18, 2012 at 12:03 PM
I think that any improvements made to the property should relate to the lake or the Great Lakes. I think this is a unique and very special piece of property and that should be observed. Wonderful things like playgrounds and planetariums can be built many places and don't really require precious lakefront property. I would really love to see the nautical theme celebrated and preserved.
Don Voigt October 18, 2012 at 01:21 PM
It's an old subject for many of us living/working in downtown...ever since the initial public meeting...the park concept is really cool but it bifurcates the downtown. A bridge or some means to connect to Rotary Park or the marina area was in the initial concept phase and was dropped due to financial implications (funding). Put it back into the plan - and aggressively seek funding - to connect to downtown. Perhaps a trolley or other means...but seek a solution to this important concept of continuity to the community, as a whole....not a series of disparate pieces. Together, we can do anything....apart, we will continue to run in separate directions.
Dan Chaudoir October 18, 2012 at 04:24 PM
A kiddie amusement park would draw a lot of visitors. There's one in Green Bay that is busy all the time. The old Dandelion Park in Muskego drew large crowds from Milwaukee every day. An arangement could be made with a private concern to operate it. Wasn't there a TV series that showed an amusement park on the shore of Port Washington?
Kyle R. Knop October 18, 2012 at 05:55 PM
One thing that should NOT be on the coal dock is any form of landscape berms or elevation changes. We currently have them in Rotary Park and they look nice when nothing is going on. Unfortunately when any festival uses the park, vendors and display tents must set-up on the uneven surfaces of the berms. The worst part of that is that those places are no longer universally accessible to folks with strollers, the ambulatory yet physically challenged or those in wheelchairs and scooters. I have seen folks not able to participate at the Maritime festival. That is a real poor message to send to visiotrs; "Come take part in our festival, but only from over there." Berms only add interest in an empty environment; I would hope the city is not designing the coal dock for an empty environment. With the exception of the old coal pile, that dock has always been a flat piece of filled land. If it is kept that way, we could have a Kite Festival as was previously mentioned. What about those large temporay 100' x 200' clearspan tents. We could host art festivals, special corporate events during PGA major championships at Whistling Straits or Harley Davidson reunion parties every 5 years. Talk about bringing people into our city, what a venue those events would have on the coal dock. It could be a seperate profit center for the city! We just need to keep at the forefront that a flat park does not have to equate to a dull park.
Greg October 18, 2012 at 06:02 PM
I think that was Step by Step. The amusement park had mountains behind it, so that may break the budget for this project.
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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