The City and Borough of Juneau’s Docks and Harbors Board’s sticking point on making a recommendation to the Assembly for what should be done with the Alaska Commercial Fishermen’s Memorial was whether to give its blessing on Marine Park.
The Assembly told the board when it approved the cruise ship dock expansion project known as 16B, it had to work with the memorial board to find a “mutually agreeable” alternative location — if necessary — to move the memorial.
The three options the memorial board found agreeable were: No.1 don’t move it, No. 2 Marine Park, No. 3 between the Intermediate Vessel Float and AJ Dock, but only if there is a guarantee that no future dock construction at that location will interfere with open access between the memorial and Gastineau Channel.
The memorial board has rejected the third option because they can’t get a guarantee because it’s private property.
The Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee met recently and said they didn’t want to necessarily approve the memorial going in Marine Park until there was a plan developed for redesigning the park. However, in committee discussion they said if the Assembly told them that’s where the memorial had to go, they would accommodate the memorial.
Docks and Harbors attempted to take a purely departmental analysis approach to a recommendation by evaluating what the memorial board recommended based upon how it would strictly affect Docks and Harbors properties and operations.
Kevin Jardell, board chair, drafted the proposed recommendation.
“The Docks and Harbors Board recognizes that there is only one location mutually acceptable ... and therefore recommends that the Commercial Fishermen’s Memorial be relocated to Marine Park,” he wrote. “...It is important to note that from a strictly Docks and Harbors perspective, the current location of the Memorial or relocation of the Memorial to any of the sites under consideration is without objection. However the board finds itself agreeing to impacts on areas, Marine Park, not within our jurisdiction and believes that consideration of those concerns is responsible.”
However, Jardell’s letter states that in addition to strictly following their charge, they also provide suggestions to the Assembly against immediately moving it.
Jardell shows that the construction timeline leaves the memorial where it’s at with the new cruise ship berths in place for one to two years.
“The Commercial Fishermen’s Memorial Board has made it very clear that the current location with 16B is not acceptable,” Jardell wrote. “However, it is a fact that we can only speculate on the actual impacts to the Blessing of the Fleet ceremony prior to having the floating berth in place.”
He suggests the Assembly set aside necessary funds to move the memorial — if the board decides the new construction is in fact not workable to their needs.
“To be clear, the Commercial Fishermen’s Memorial Board is on record not supporting the alternative of delaying a final decision,” Jardell wrote. “It is also abundantly clear that there are strong ties and connections to the memorial that need to be respected.”
Member Greg Busch was supportive of the recommendation because it gives Parks and Rec time to develop what Marine Park could look like and it would give the memorial board a chance to see if the existing location actually will work. If the existing location won’t work for both ceremonies, then there still would be time and space to move the memorial to their next best location.
Board member Mike Williams was supportive of the proposal because it met the Assembly’s charge and would approve of what the memorial board wants.
Williams said while paying for college he worked with commercial fishermen, has his captain’s license and still works with fishermen today. He knew people who are listed on the memorial. Williams said this will take some community adaptation and at the same time, the board has to look at what’s best for the community and be sensitive to the needs of the memorial.
Member Tom Donek also agreed with the plan. He said many have said the fleet blessing will and won’t work with the new berth at the current site. He pointed to the drawings and said what people see on there is not the same as seeing what actually is going on. Public testimony suggested placing buoys out in the water to mark where everything will be under the new development, however he felt that still wouldn’t accurately depict functionality.
“I’m not sure I find it acceptable to move it to Marine Park,” said member Eric Kueffner. “If we pass this, I’m saying I agree to moving it to Marine Park.”
Jardell said he was looking at it entirely from a Docks and Harbors operations perspective.
“I look it from a very tight perspective between our charge and our operations on the waterfront,” he said.
Donek said he didn’t “have a lot of good feelings” about the Marine Park site, but also acknowledged that opinion was beyond the scope of their charge.
The motion to support Jardell’s letter failed 4-2. Members Greg Busch, Kevin Jardell, Mike Williams and Tom Donek voted in favor. Members John Bush and Eric Kueffner voted against. Members Don Etheridge, Budd Simpson and Wayne Wilson were absent.
“I object because of the view that Docks and Harbors doesn’t care where it goes,” Kueffner said. “We do care where it goes. I’m uncomfortable voting for something that recommends moving it to Marine Park.”
Kueffner proposed supporting the no-move option only.
“I think we can look at the ‘if necessary’ clause,” he said. “We can say at this time it’s not necessary, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be moved in the future.”
His motion failed with him as the lone supporter.
Bush said the only reason he did not support the original motion was because the letter used the phrase “without objection” in regards to moving the memorial to Marine Park or any other location. Bush said the recommendation to move it isn’t without objection.
“There’s emotional, financial, the whole gamut of objections that can be raised and have been raised here,” he said.
The board looked to have come to a standstill on the issue so it tabled the matter.
• Contact reporter Sarah Day at 523-2279 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.