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Port Washington closes North Beach until further notice due to unstable bluff

Posted at 3:21 PM, Jun 09, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-09 23:17:59-04

PORT WASHINGTON, Wis. — The City of Port Washington announced Thursday that North Beach will be closed until further notice due to an unstable bluff.

The city consulted with Miller Engineers and Scientists who recommended the closure. The city says it will continue to plan and budget to provide temporary and permanent solutions to the risks posed by the bluff. A timeline for project development is not yet available.

The city also announced it will postpone the planned work to remove slumping soils at the beach entrance until the beach is considered safe.

The walkway around the city's Wastewater Treatment Plant and the stairs connecting to Upper Lake Park will remain open. City officials say these facilities are located where the bluff has been previously stabilized.

City officials are urging residents and visitors to heed the notice that the beach is closed and stay off the beach for their own safety.

Along the Port Washington shoreline sits North Beach. On a balmy 75-degree day, it sat empty Thursday.

“It’s kind of heartbreaking, to be honest,” said resident Eloise Bahr.

Saturated soil and constant weathering now leaves a large amount of mud atop North Beach sand and in Lake Michigan.

“I’m just afraid it’s going to keep going down. They got the trees roped off over here,” Bahr said.

Port Washington leadership is now planning and budgeting for solutions to stall the inevitability of mother nature’s impact on the shoreline.

“Where we’re at right now is the city is going to work with engineering to determine the best way to address this,” said Port Washington Mayor Ted Neitzke.

For now, the Department of Public Works is doing studies to find ways to stabilize the beach. That could cost upward of $10 million.

“It’s a need. It’s not a want, and we’re looking at it strategically to determine how we can do that, where we can find the resources and collaborate with the county state and federal government,” Mayor Neitzke said.

Rob Vanden Noven, Director of Public Works, said research must be done.

"Until we do some more research on it, I really don’t feel comfortable letting anyone walk there and to tell you the truth, I feel uncomfortable walking along there,” he said.

Right now, there is no timeline for the beach to re-open.

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