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COW discusses West Douglas road extension

Posted: June 12, 2012 - 12:02am

The City and Borough of Juneau’s conceptual plan for road access to West Douglas was approved by the City and Borough of Juneau’s Committee of the Whole on Monday. The plan now goes before the Assembly.

The road extension is planned to eventually reach Point Hilda. If built, the road would run along Stephens Passage though several development areas and a proposed golf course. The road runs through or near city, U.S. Forest Service and private land.

Heather Marlow, city lands and resources manager, said Juneau has worked with Goldbelt on the West Douglas Extension since the 1990s. The work resulted in a conceptual plan.

Goldbelt owns 714 acres in West Douglas. Some of the goals are development of land, a harbor and cultural center.

The city and Goldbelt signed a revised memorandum of agreement in 2010 “in response to the availability of $2.9 million of (Department of Transportation & Public Facilities) funding to extend the North Douglas Highway corridor,” according to Marlow’s written report to the Committee.

In a letter to Marlow, Goldbelt said it “prefers the modified upper alignment.” This option runs through city lands to approximately Middle Point. Goldbelt said the route would preserve areas for habitat and future subsistence and cultural uses.

Juneau studied four routes down the west side of Douglas — upper, upper modified, middle and lower alignment. For more on those plans, visit
goo.gl/gpNnz. The upper, upper modified and middle branch off before the end of the current road. The lower alignment begins where the current road ends. The middle alignment is already plotted.

Proposed development in the 1999 conceptual plan includes a concentrated cluster of development, spaced by undeveloped land.

Currently there is no set development proposed for the area around the road corridor, Marlow said. The current reason for the road is for the enhanced access of public recreation, she said — a trail from Eaglecrest Ski Area down to the water on West Douglas.

“Could be another hunting access point in that area,” Marlow said.

The recommendation from the city’s engineering and lands staff is to start by building the modified upper route that leads to the lower route, Marlow said.

It’s a route “we are confident we can permit and we can construct and that meets the needs of both parties,” Marlow said.

The city has $600,000 for planning and preliminary design for a road corridor in West Douglas, Marlow said. It has enough funding to build the extension past Peterson Creek, she said. With additional funding, Juneau can decide which route to build from that point.

Mayor Bruce Botelho said he was concerned city lands wouldn’t be developed due to being uphill of some proposed routes.

“I’m actually pleased with how this turned out,” Botelho said. “It’s a good mesh for long-term CBJ objectives.”

The city would still need a spur road to develop city land, Marlow said.

Long term, the West Douglas road is for community expansion, Marlow said.

“Going forward 50 to 100 years, this is the new Mendenhall Valley for Juneau,” Marlow said. Future development could include housing, a deep water port and a golf course, among other projects.

Assembly Member Randy Wanamaker is a member of the Goldbelt board. He asked if he should be recused from discussion of the expansion. City staff recommended he be recused.

Committee members expressed their desire to learn more about the conceptual plan.

Botelho suggested the Assembly hold a meeting to discuss the plan between its introduction and subsequent public hearings.

• Contact reporter Russell Stigall at 523-2276 or at russell.stigall@juneauempire.com.

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