PORT WASHINGTON (WITI) — Signs have been posted along the breakwaters in Port Washington’s harbor warning people to walk at their own risk. This, as the breakwaters have become a danger.
The signs went up on Friday, November 1st — and concern over the breakwater system failing has Port Washington Mayor Tom Mlada asking for help.
“We’re not known for being the squeaky wheel. That’s a problem,” Mayor Mlada said.
As the waves on Lake Michigan Monday brought out the surfers in Port Washington, those walking near the breakwaters took notice of the new signs.
“It’s just telling folks ‘if you go out there, your life is now in your own hands’ because that’s the level to which this has fallen, in terms of the state of repair,” Mayor Mlada said.
The north and south breakwaters are now considered unsafe by the Army Corps of Engineers who say the structures were never intended for public use — although they acknowledge it happens.
Mayor Mlada is now hoping to get federal funding instead of later rebuilding the structures that are in disrepair.
“It means we’ve got work to do. And you know the sad part is with the concept of imminent failure it’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when,” Mayor Mlada said.
The Corps says there is no money in the current fiscal year’s budget to repair the breakwaters at this time. However, if it fails, Mayor Mlada says that’s when something will be done and he’s hoping to change that by making noise.
“We need to elevate the concern. We’ve got to get in front of the right people out in Washington, D.C. — not only in terms of elected officials, but also in terms of the Corps officials out there who are really putting forward the slate of projects that will receive funding,” Mayor Mlada said.
If the breakwaters were to fail, it would impact local businesses like fishing companies and put the harbor at risk — creating problems from Sheboygan to Milwaukee — according to Mayor Mlada.
“If you remove Port Washington from that as a safe harbor, the reality is folks have a very long hike of it before they get in any kind of safe harbor facility,” Mayor Mlada said.
Mayor Mlada says he is working with Congressman Tom Petri and his staff, along with the Army Corps of Engineers to solve the problem.
His hope is to raise awareness of everyone in the city and the county as to the potential problem so that he has a number of voices fighting with him for funding.