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Parks and Rec: Marine Park not the best place for memorial move

Posted: August 16, 2011 - 10:09pm

The Parks and Recreation Advisory Board believes Marine Park is not the best place to relocate Fishermen’s Memorial.

The board drafted a recommendation to the Docks and Harbors Board on its opinions of locations in city parks, particularly Marine Park.

The Docks and Harbors board will take up the issue at its next meeting, and then will forward its recommendations to the Assembly on Aug. 29.

PRAC member James King, Sr., suggested Parks and Rec keep its options open until planning and design has been done for Marine Park.

“I don’t want to slam the door against putting it in Marine Park,” he said. “We’re not ready to recommend that.”

PRAC member Gerry Landry agreed.

“We don’t want to put the cart before the horse,” Landry said. “We’re not saying yes to the memorial before a plan has been made. What we are saying is, we like the current planning process. To say yes to moving Marine Park at this stage, we’re not supporting it.”

Member Kate Walters also agreed, saying most members wanted to see the memorial stay where it is presently located.

The board opposed immediate agreement to the Marine Park proposal for several reasons, including public testimony and staff recommendations against the location for a memorial. The Fishermen’s Memorial board said its would prefer the memorial not be moved, but if it must be moved — to keep the memorial and Blessing of the Fleet connected — the board would like it to be in Marine Park.

Linda Mancuso, a Docks and Harbors technician, spoke as a citizen and not for the department, but objected to the move to marine park.

She works what is called the swing shift — a late night shift — seasonally at the downtown docks. One of her duties is to walk around the facilities with a bucket and a grabber stick to pick up trash.

“(The memorial is) right next to Taku Smokeries, so you’ve got that fishing connection there,” Mancuso explained. “People are just standing there taking pictures. It’s such a great little connection. I pick up so much trash, cigarette butts, Heritage Coffee cups, all kinds of disposable things. When I walk through the memorial, people don’t throw trash there. There are flowers down there right now. There was a letter last week from a mom to her son, a baby picture in there. People leave that stuff alone"

"When I heard you had considered Marine Park, I don’t know how to put this to you, Marine Park doesn’t really belong to us anymore. It’s a drunk haven," she said.

Mancuso said she frequently calls the downtown police officers and Rainforest Recovery center — sometimes on a daily basis — to pick up people passed out in the park.

“I want you folks to be aware, if you move it down there, you’re going to have drunks, defecating, trash, ... more whiskey bottles,” she said. “I wish Marine Park was a different venue. I don’t think its an appropriate place to honor those who have lost their lives.”

Other public testimony featured people whose friends and family members are listed on the memorial.

The testimony restated that those directly involved with it would prefer the memorial not be moved at all, but said it could be made to work at Marine Park — though the transformation of what downtown used to be and what it is now dismayed several.

“It’s transformed completely,” Tom Paul said. “It’s going even more off the charts in that direction. It seems to me the new dock system is a foregone conclusion now. There’s nothing to be said or done. I would like the Parks and Rec board and Assembly to take a longer view as to what’s happening downtown. If new things come, the old things get pushed away. It’s too bad.”

Brent Fischer, Parks and Rec director, also recommended in his report against moving the memorial to Marine Park because of the 2004 Long-range Waterfront plan. He noted the memorial was specifically designed for its current location and Marine Park would not be a fitting location for a memorial.

Fischer noted several activities that take place in Marine Park that would conflict with the solemn nature of the memorial including heavy metal concerts, parades, festivals and flash mobs.

Fischer favored a Bridge Park location, as Parks and Rec is developing the park and it would be a quite place. After testimony from Fishermen’s Memorial Board President Bruce Weyrauch and another board member, the location had been previously shot down because of safety issues that would be present for the Blessing. There are really strong currents in that area that would make Bridge Park unfeasible. Weyrauch also expressed concern that many of the recommendations in Fischer’s report were not discussed with him when they held a meeting. He said the Fishermen’s Memorial Board is interested in playing fair and keeping open lines of communication.

“We think Marine Park is the crown jewel of Juneau as well as the memorial and together they can make a crown,” Weyrauch said.

Gary Gillette, Docks and Harbors engineer, also was on hand to explain design details.

He was asked about the construction schedule and clarified that the memorial would most likely be in its current location for one year with the new floating berth in place.

A member of the Memorial board said they likely will discuss cancelling the blessing during that construction year due to safety reasons.

• Contact reporter Sarah Day at 523-2279 or at sarah.day@juneauempire.com.

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