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Assembly Committee discusses need for dock project to accommodate larger cruise ships

Posted: April 25, 2011 - 8:27pm

The City and Borough of Juneau Assembly, meeting as a Committee of the Whole Monday night at City Hall, discussed Juneau’s Waterfront Development Plan which will create two new floating cruise ship docks.

The total cost of the proposed dock project is $92 million, City Finance Director Craig Duncan said. This includes about $63 million for construction of the dock itself, with the remainder allocated to improving the uplands area to accommodate the new docks.

Funding would come from a combination of local and state marine passenger fees and the city’s port development fee. However, Duncan said the city would need to borrow money in the form of bonds to ensure construction can be funded and completed by May of 2015. The work would need to be done in four stages in order to ensure each part is completed prior to the start of the respective cruise seasons of 2012-15. This would also allow local contractors a realistic opportunity to bid on phase one of the project, the smallest of the four phases, a memo from Docks and Harbors Board Chairman Jim Preston said.

If the City Assembly approved the issuance of bonds and expenditure of funds, the city is nearly ready to issue requests for bids for significant portions of the project, Stone said. The construction of two floating docks is necessary to accommodate two large Panamax-style cruise ships in Juneau, Stone said.

Mayor Bruce Botelho said Southeast cruise destinations Skagway and Ketchikan either have, or soon will have, the capacity to host these large ships. He advised the Committee that if Juneau does not approve laying out the money for the proposed new docks and the accompanying enhancements, the city will still need to spend “tens of millions” of dollars to maintain their current docks, all without the ability to bring in the larger cruise ships.

City Engineer Rorie Watt told the committee that as the sea walk prepares for a Friday opening, part of the plans for developing the uplands area near the docks would be to create a sea walk along the length of the wharf. The city is also negotiating to purchase two parcels of land needed to create the uplands improvements. One of those proposed acquisitions, known as the Archipelago Property and located directly south of the Marine Park Parking garage, required the committee to meet in executive session to provide the city’s negotiators instructions on how to proceed.

In action items, the committee unanimously passed recommendations to the City Assembly to award PND Engineers more than $2.7 million for design services related to the new dock project. Those services would help the city prepare bid documents for the dock. There was also no opposition to the recommendation to commit all current port development fees, aligned with all those collected through fiscal year 2016, to the dock project. Fees collected in fiscal years 2014-2034 would be committed as security for bonds needed for the dock project.

The committee was also scheduled to discuss the possibility of the city opting out of Alaska Public Offices Commission disclosure requirements for municipal officers. State law allows cities to do so, if the measure is approved by voters. However, this discussion had not begun by press time Monday. Please visit www. juneauempire.com or see Wednesday’s Empire for more on this issue.

• Contact Deputy Managing Editor Charles Ward at 523-2266 or at charles.ward@juneauempire.com.

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