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PRAC gets second look at tax package options

Posted: November 13, 2011 - 12:05am

The City and Borough of Juneau’s Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee got a second look on Wednesday at options for projects on city parks and trails to include in an improvement package vying for 1 percent temporary sales tax funds.

Juneau Parks and Landscape Superintendent George Schaaf reviewed the potential parks projects again Thursday. Specific projects haven’t changed since the committee’s first look in October, but the rough funding estimates have slightly changed in some areas. In total, the parks package is estimated to cost $5 million — however, those figures are considered to be very rough estimates.

Projects seeing the highest possible dollar allocation include Cope Park, Dimond Park, Bridge Park’s phase 1 and Riverside Rotary Park. There are about 15 parks included in the draft package and areawide deferred maintenance.

For a review of the proposed park packages see bit.ly/rJudGQ.

Erik Boraas, executive director of the non-profit trail maintenance organzation Trail Mix, was asked to present a package of trail projects.

Boraas said the Trail Mix board came up with a list of trails that were mostly city-owned, though there are some that have partial state or federal ownership.

They were limited to about $1 million in trail improvements — and all estimates are also considered “very rough.” The priorities for trail improvements focused on connectivity and networking.

“We’ve got great trails,” Boraas said. “There are a lot of trails that are close to each other that we can do this with. We want to improve trails for multiple uses, mountain biking, cross country skiing, hiking.”
He said Trail Mix also would like to create more looping trails as there are already a lot of “out and backs.”

The Trail Mix package included:

• Paris Creek Bridge. Installation of a 50-foot bridge over Paris Creek, rehabilitating 1.5 miles of Treadwell Ditch Trail, installing eight 15-foot bridges and re-routing 50 feet of trail is proposed. Boraas said the project would reestablish a connection between Mount Jumbo and the Gastineau Meadows Trail, benefit the entire 14-mile Treadwell Ditch Trail and create an alternative bike route between Douglas and North Douglas. The cost is estimated at $150,000.

• Auke Lake to Montana Creek Trail. This would connect the two trails with a half-mile of 4-foot-wide gravel for a trail. It would not only connect two existing trails, but it also would create a loop between the bike path planned from Brotherhood Bridge and the University of Alaska Southeast. The cost is estimated at $75,000.

• Horse Tram Trail. This project proposes to install 24 feet of gravel and 100 feet of turnpike trail through muskeg. Boraas said it would create a sustainable link between Boy Scout Beach and Almaga Meadows and harden the path for mountain biking. This is estimated at $100,000.

• Bonnie Brae Trail. Proposed improvements include replacing rotting planking material with turnpike, re-routing around historic remains and hardening of the trail for projected increase in overall usage due to four new bridges currently being installed. Boraas said this project will improve access to the Treadwell Ditch Trail for mountain bikers and skiers. Estimated cost is $250,000.

• Icy Gulch Trail. This proposed trail would connect Mount Roberts and Perseverance trails. Boraas believes it would create a new trail for mountain bikers, particularly ones who enjoy downhill biking. Estimated cost is $100,000.

• Hilda Creek Trail. This would create a new trail from Eaglecrest to a new city property acquisition at Point Hilda. This would include 200 feet of turnpike through muskeg and three miles of “single-track primitive trail.” Boraas said it would open up recreation to the west side of Douglas and would provide an opportunity for a cabin-to-cabin system. It’s estimated to cost $140,000. Boraas said one concern with the proposal is people would see the ocean on the other side of Douglas and just keep going — regardless of the trail — and that property is owned by Goldbelt. That project would need a lot more creative planning to keep people off private property.

• Montana Creek Trail. This would rehabilitate the trail between the community garden and Back Loop Road and install several bridges over various creeks. Boraas said it would connect the Mendenhall Valley Trail System and the Windfall Lake Trail System. Access for sport fishermen would improve. Estimated cost is $250,000.

Boraas said 14 miles of trail would be built or maintained and would connect more than 60 miles of trails.

Committee member Chris Mertl said he really liked the list, but saw one element missing — no urban trails. He realized that there is a gray area with public works, streets and trails, but they should also be included.

“Maybe putting in some urban trails will help round out your list,” Mertl said. “I like what you’ve done.”

Another committee member said she had particular interest in the Horse Tram Trail and wondered if it could be done to accommodate an all-terrain wheelchair. She’s been working on ADA regulations related to trails and believes that would be a fit.

“You guys massage these things,” said Jeff Wilson, committee chairman, to Schaaf and Boraas. “Every project we have has to be a home run. I would ask staff to think about that.”

Wilson anticipates bringing the list back to PRAC for its December meeting with final projects and better estimates of costs. Wilson said he has to have the list to the City Manager’s Office in December and would likely make a presentation for the Assembly in January.

The city’s temporary 1 percent sales tax is set to expire , and traditionally is approved for special projects. If PRAC asks for the entire $6 million for all trails and parks, that amounts to just shy of one year’s worth of sales tax. The city earns about $8 million per year with the tax. Several other city departments are also vying for the funds. Voters must approve extension of the tax.

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

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