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City taking comments on Auke Bay's future

Public voices opinion on Auke Bay neighborhood master plan

Posted: October 21, 2013 - 11:03pm
Traffic moves on one lane as the pavement is dug out on Glacier Highway at Mendenhall Loop Road in Auke Bay on Monday.  Michael Penn | Juneau Empire
Michael Penn | Juneau Empire
Traffic moves on one lane as the pavement is dug out on Glacier Highway at Mendenhall Loop Road in Auke Bay on Monday.

The city heard questions and concerns from the public last week at two sets of scoping meetings on the Auke Bay Master Plan, a City and Borough of Juneau initiative for infrastructure improvement in the area.

The city’s Comprehensive Plan has called for “doing a small area plan in the Auke Bay neighborhood” since 2008, city senior planner and project manager Ben Lyman said.

Recent development in the area — at the university and on the roads, for example — has caused Auke Bay to be pulled in many different directions, Lyman said. The neighborhood must be looked at as a whole in order to make sure all its needs are being met, he said.

“We know this area needs some attention — there are a lot of conflicting uses,” Lyman said. “We need to make sure that we’re looking at it holistically.”

First, though, the city must determine what Auke Bay residents want the future of the neighborhood to look like.

“We’re asking questions and getting feedback: people’s hopes, dreams, desires, fears,” Lyman said. “What does the community want to see in Auke Bay, and how large of an area are we looking at? We need to verify through the community that what we’re thinking in terms of geographic scope and outcomes are really what the community wants out of this process.”

Lyman said the meetings were informational and showed that Auke Bay stakeholders have many different priorities. However, the hot button issue seems to be pedestrian safety, he said.

Ongoing Alaska Department of Transportation work on Glacier Highway has Auke Bay residents worried about navigating the area safely on foot and by bike, Lyman said. Because of the department’s construction schedule, safety concerns must be collected soon to be considered by DOT, he said.

“There’s lot of concern about pedestrian safety in that area — for children, for UAS students, for people who just live in the neighborhood. We have retired people who said they’re worried about walking around,” he said. “It’s going to be a major part and one of the most complicated parts of the project that we’re going to have to work on right away.”

City planning staff met Monday to debrief and figure out the project’s next steps. Through the end of the week, residents can continue to give feedback by answering a 10-question survey online at www.surveymonkey.com/s/6C6WCKT.

An Auke Bay Master Plan steering committee is expected to be named at the Nov. 12 Planning Commission meeting, Lyman said. Committee member nominations can be made by emailing Lyman at benjamin_lyman@ci.juneau.ak.us.

More information on the Auke Bay Master Plan can be found online at www.juneau.org/aukebayplan. The website will be updated throughout the course of the project.

• Contact reporter Katie Moritz at 523-2294 or at katherine.moritz@juneauempire.com.

Follow her on Twitter @katecmoritz.

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