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Dimond Park needs an updated master plan

Posted: November 22, 2011 - 1:03am

Dimond Park has seen quite a bit of development in the past few years, and city officials now believe it’s time to update a master plan for the site as space is more limited.

City Engineering Director Rorie Watt gave an update on what’s going on with the site to the City and Borough of Juneau’s Public Works and Facilities Committee on Monday. Watt said city staff from various departments and school district officials held a preliminary meeting recently to discuss the site.

Watt said the lands were purchased by the city in the 1980s for “construction of schools, a library and recreation facilities.”

It’s managed by both the city Parks and Recreation Department and Juneau School District.

A number of master plans have been developed through the years since the land was purchased — for Thunder Mountain High School, Dimond Park Aquatic Center, baseball and softball fields and the field house, for example. Other wants include upgrading the football/soccer fields to create covered seating and restrooms. The school district is interested in space for baseball and softball fields.

The Library Department’s recent pitch for constructing a new library on the site has prompted a need for coordination and planning on the few remaining empty spots left.

“Last year there was the community effort about Arctic Winter Games and another ice rink,” Watt said. “We’re developing a new version of the master plan. The Assembly will want to comment on it. The School Board will want to comment on it. We are probably never going to be able to do everything everyone’s envisioned.”

Watt said there isn’t a lot of city-owned land left there. There is a wooded area next to the aquatic center, and the area behind the field house and track field (the former Gold Rush Days site). Aside from that, there’s the site the Mendenhall Valley Library wants to build upon where the Parks and Recreation maintenance facility is now located.

Assembly member Ruth Danner, also a committee member, said the Planning Commission would like to be in on early conversations about development. She added they also need to consider traffic impacts.

Michael Satre, a committee member from the Planning Commission, expanded on the traffic component. He suggested a single entry point to the site might be more appropriate, rather than having an entry point at Riverbend Elementary School — which is not a signaled intersection — and an entry point to Thunder Mountain and Dimond Park. Satre said a traffic study is needed as they look at options.

In other business, Watt updated the committee on the Mendenhall Peninsula sewer expansion proposal. Watt reviewed the public meeting his department held for residents last week, gauging neighborhood interest on expanding the city sewer to one of the last areas in the city service area that’s currently not on the sewer system.

Watt said more work needs to be done and he will come back with a better picture of the next steps at a future meeting. Close to 100 people attended Monday’s meeting.

“Going to bring back a more formal presentation of comments. Twenty-five (to) 30 people wrote comments, they’re very good comments,” Watt said. “The committee should decide whether sewer should be part of the plan.”

Watt said at the neighborhood meeting if it was a clear the community did not want sewer, the city wouldn’t push it because it’s an expensive project. However, when he took straw polls of the people in attendance there wasn’t a clear answer for a “go” or “no-go.”

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

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