Talks in progress for Port Washington Lighthouse preservation plans

NOW: Talks in progress for Port Washington Lighthouse preservation plans


PORT WASHINGTON, Wis. (CBS 58) -- Talks continue about a historic landmark that's been part of the Port Washington landscape for nearly 100 years. City officials want to clean up the lighthouse. But other changes being considered could really revise the lakefront's look.

The lighthouse is on both the national and state registries of historic places, so it's not hard to find people in support of it, but the changes being considered for the lakefront, as a whole, could cost upwards of $13 million, and that's not sitting well with everyone.

The sound of crashing waves and wind blowing makes for a relaxing afternoon for Debbi and Gil Gartenberg.

"Yea I've been coming up here since I was a child," said Debbi Gartenberg, Port Washington visitor.

And for countless fishermen, Port Washington is their spot.

"It's like a part of Wisconsin. You know the fishing industry here. It's a very special place," said Gartenberg.

Coal Dock Park came to be in 2012, and…

"In the late 90s they created Rotary Park," said Rob Vanden Noven, director of public works and city engineer of Port Washington.

Both parks with a clear view of Port Washington's iconic symbol, built in 1935.

"It's time to preserve the lighthouse and so that will involve repairing some of the rusted steal, replacement of some of the port holes and repainting the structure in addition to some concrete base repairs as well," said Vanden Noven.

Rob Vanden Noven says the lighthouse remains structurally sound, but…

"Water's getting in it through the port holes that are broken, some of the coatings are coming off of it so we want to preserve the metal and bring it back to its original luster," said Vanden Noven.

Other proposed changes in very early stages of talks include the building of a breakwater, potentially doubling the marina's size, and moving launch ramps to Coal Dock Park.

"I think it's been real exciting. In the last 20 years, we've seen a lot of improvements downtown and throughout the city. So I think you know people who've gone for a while and come back are really amazed at the changes," said Vanden Noven.

But this is the one that people are talking about right now.

"It's a part of Port Washington's history and all lighthouses should be preserved," said Gartenberg.

It's budget season now. The council is taking a look at if they can afford the lighthouse preservation. If yes, it could be done as soon as next year.

As for the other lakefront changes, Harbor Commission members have said they're expensive and talks will be continuing on the downtown plan.

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