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Courtesy of The Whale Project
Sculptor Skip Wallen with the full size whale in foam at the foundry in Oregon.

Juneau's big, bronze whale expected in a year

City under the gun to finish waterfront site for sculpture

Posted: February 13, 2013 - 9:41am  |  Updated: February 14, 2013 - 1:17am

City Engineering Director Rory Watt told the Juneau Planning Commission the city could take ownership of its $2.2 million life-size bronze whale “in about a year or so.” The announcement came during discussion of the City and Borough of Juneau’s Capital Improvements Program Tuesday night.

Watt said the CBJ Assembly has agreed to prepare a site to receive the whale. The 28-foot-tall sculpture would weigh three tons and is expected to be situated in a pool along the city’s waterfront — specifically at the proposed bridge park.

“The Whale Committee has made great strides,” Watt said. “We have a lot of work to do.”

Sculptor R.T. “Skip” Wallen is scheduled to return to the foundry as early as the week of Feb. 18.

“They have a full-size, 28-foot high foam model and he is applying clay to it,” Watt said. “It’s really happening.”

While the city’s Sea Walk plan is conceptual at this time, Watt said, if the sculpture is delivered on time the city could “see the Sea Walk advance faster.”

The waterfront sea walk could get $1million this year from local marine passenger fees. The funds will only go so far, as sea walks are expensive, Watt said. Juneau’s project could run $3 million or more.

Purchase and placement of the whale sculpture is being organized by the Whale Committee. The idea of a life-size whale sculpture dates back five decades in Juneau. For more information visit jahc.org.

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

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