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Assembly approves $7M for Valley library

Professional Plaza driveway appeal dismissed

Posted: November 27, 2012 - 1:04am

The City and Borough of Juneau Assembly Monday night approved several appropriations of grant money and dismissed an appeal of a Planning Commission decision allowing Professional Plaza to construct a second driveway.

The Assembly approved the appropriation of $7 million from an Alaska Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development legislative grant to fund the planned library at Dimond Park, a $14 million project that is receiving the remainder of its funding from other sources.

Last month, Juneau voters approved an extension of the 1 percent temporary sales tax until 2018 (http://bit.ly/UiCm1K), with $4.7 million of the revenue the tax is expected to raise marked for the library project.

An appeal of a Planning Commission decision by resident Janet Thrower, expected to go before the Assembly, was dismissed.

“Ms. Thrower, who filed the appeal of the Berners Avenue Professional Plaza driveway reconstruction, and Professional Plaza have reached agreement, and they have settled their suit,” said Assemblymember Randy Wanamaker, presiding officer in the appeal. “The appeal has been withdrawn. It is no longer before the (Assembly), and the stipulation for the agreement has been signed.”

The agreement, a copy of which is available online (http://bit.ly/V3iHgD), stipulates that Professional Plaza, an office complex in the Mendenhall Valley near Juneau International Airport, will install a second signpost on the Berners Avenue driveway and post additional signs advising drivers that only left turns are permitted and that the driveway is “exit only.”

Last month, just before the Assembly originally voted to hear her appeal, Thrower suggested that such a compromise could be reached (http://bit.ly/U8KMEu). She had argued that without those accommodations, a driveway onto Berners Avenue would sharply increase commercial traffic through her neighborhood.

The Assembly also agreed to refund the deposit Thrower put down for the appeal.

The meeting also saw several honors bestowed.

K.V. Koski, longtime chairman of the Juneau Wetlands Review Board, was honored at the meeting by Mayor Merrill Sanford for his service. Sanford presented Koski with a certificate of commendation.

“I would like to take this opportunity to thank you on behalf of the City and Borough of Juneau Assembly and the citizens of Juneau for your many years of service on the Wetlands Review Board,” said Sanford, reading from the letter with which the certificate was enclosed. “I commend you for a job well done.”

Koski received a standing ovation.

“It’s been really a pleasure to serve on the board for all these years,” Koski said. “Juneau’s a great community, and a tremendous landscape with wetlands and streams … so I felt like (doing) whatever I could do to preserve and protect that.”

Awards from the Alaska Municipal League, which met earlier this month in Anchorage, were also given to Juneau Docks and Harbors for its work on the Auke Bay Loading Facility, as well as to the city staff for “creating and measuring employee engagement,” an award accepted by Human Resources and Risk Management Director Mila Cosgrove.

Sanford emphasized after the honors were given that it is “important to recognize” the contributions of staff and members of volunteer boards and committees alike.

Assemblymember Jerry Nankervis questioned an appropriation from a DCCED grant of more than $1.6 million for a habitat mapping project. He suggested that the findings could be used to close off low-level wetlands to development.

“My concern is that with this application, we might be eliminating developable property,” Nankervis said.

“The purpose of this project is actually the inverse of that,” said Planning Manager Greg Chaney in response.

Chaney said the goal of the project, which will run until early 2016, is actually seeking to identify which low-level wetlands are suitable for development.

“I think this is a very pro-development project, ultimately,” Chaney said. “It may not look that way on the surface, but when you get down into the details, it actually will help.”

Nankervis withdrew his objection, and the ordinance appropriating the funds was adopted with unanimous consent.

Toward the end of the meeting, Sanford acknowledged the deaths of former Assemblymember David G. Stone, deputy commissioner of the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development, who died unexpectedly last Tuesday (http://bit.ly/Qvz7Th), and two men from Juneau who were killed when their boat capsized Friday evening (http://bit.ly/Trkoa9).

Sanford, who also mentioned the recent Gastineau Apartments fire that displaced dozens of downtown Juneau residents (http://bit.ly/Q9nLnR), said, “In one way, it’s very encouraging and powerful to see the outpouring of love and respect to the families and individuals involved in all of these things. In another way, it’s all a big tragedy for all of us to lose friends and neighbors as we have.”

Sanford added, “I’m very proud of our community, and proud of our organizations and the different individuals who have stepped forward to help in these three different situations to a very high level of professionalism.”

• Contact reporter Mark D. Miller at 523-2279 or at mark.d.miller@juneauempire.com.

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