Common Council approves harbor silt solutions
On Monday night, the Common Council unanimously approved a resolution sponsored by Theodore Ruffalo and Tod Ohnstad to place a request for proposal (RFP) for engineering services to discover a long-term solution to eliminate silt deposition in the Kenosha harbor mouth. “The short-term solution is in the pipeline,” stated Matt Knight, deputy city attorney, when questioned by Alderperson Michael Orth. “Money has been budgeted in this year’s Capital Improvement Plan (CIP).”
Two citizens spoke on this subject during the citizens’ comments portion of the meeting. Walter Kreuser is passionate about the Kenosha harbor. He stated that it’s been neglected the last seven or eight years as far as maintenance and upkeep are concerned. “Dredging the harbor is definitely needed. There is five feet of water in the center of the harbor and eight feet at the edges. It’s a severe problem. It needs to be done tomorrow, or next week. The “tidal surge” is preventing slips and docks from being built. We need to get rid of the silt. The harbor was designed for international freighters, not small boaters. The Army Corps of Engineers has never done a study. For $100,000, they’ll give us the process steps to fix the problem. No one does weekly harbor cleanings of debris. We’ve got big events coming this summer with no slips and no docks to put them in,” stated Kreuser.
Edward Werner, past commodore of the Kenosha Yacht Club, a historian of the light house, and a retired officer of the United States Coast Guard, also spoke on the harbor. “It needs dredging. It’s only three to four feet between the two harbor piers. After 133 years, the Coast Guard just might say that it’s been a nice run, but it’s over. They just may close up all summer-time stations. If you’ve got to wait for a rescue boat to come from Milwaukee or Wilmont while you’re out in the middle of the lake, you’ll be waiting for a long time. I hope it’s not you in the water waiting for a rescue,” he said.
Ruffalo stated that “There is an impending danger to the public’s safety and welfare. The depth is five feet, and the water is high. The average draft of a sailboat is eight feet.” Alderperson David Bodgala added that “This is now a safety issue in the harbor. We need to add dates to this resolution so that everyone knows that we’re serious about this. It needs to be done by April 5th.”
Orth asked if the RFP was ready to go out, and Mike Lemens, director of engineering, stated that they will meet the April 5th deadline. “Also, the long-term strategy?” asked Orth. “Yes,” stated Lemens. “We have several avenues that we’re pursuing.” Ruffalo stated that we can’t continue to spend $225,000 every two years to dredge the harbor.
Mayor Keith Bosman said that we will get the short-term done. Senator Kohl, in working with the Army Corps of Engineers, keeps giving us the excuse that they can’t help us right now because of (Hurricane) Katrina. “We’re waiting for them.”
Orth was concerned because the resolution did not coincide with the amendment approved by the Finance Commmittee. Bogdala then proposed an amendment change stating that the resolution would “find a long-term and a short-term solution, and that the short-term plans would be ready by April 5th.” Ruffalo agreed that the original intent was to have both. All were then satisfied with that language, and the resolution was approved unanimously.