Bus parking would convert to a pedestrian plaza in a redesign of the Steamship Wharf-Marine Park area presented to the Juneau Assembly on Wednesday.
The city is working on a "convertible space" concept for the area between the downtown library and Merchants Wharf, Deputy City Manager Donna Pierce said. The idea is to build a space that can be used for tour bus parking, cruise ship passenger loading and as a pedestrian plaza, she said.
"It would not look like a bus parking lot when buses aren't there," she said. "A plaza assures that it will continue to be useful into the future."
Conceptual drawings of the project show room for about 15 diagonal bus parking spaces, although Pierce said the city still is evaluating angled and parallel bus parking options. Currently, seven buses can park along the street near Steamship Wharf.
Assembly members last month asked the city to rework plans for the area that were put on hold in 1999.
The parking area could be used for an outdoor market or street fair when cruise ships aren't in, city Engineering Director John Stone said. Barrels, removable posts that could be slipped into sockets, or concrete planters could be used to separate traffic, he said. The city also is looking at colored, printed asphalt to make the area look less like a parking lot, he said.
Cruise ships will be tied up at Steamship Wharf about 47 percent of daylight hours between May 1 to Aug. 31 this year, according to information from the city. Ship use could increase in the future, Stone said.
The project design also includes more benches and a removable shelter near the bus staging area, Stone said.
During the winter, the city could add a temporary skating rink to the parking area, said Don Beard, an associate with Tetra Tech/KCM, Inc. in Juneau who is working with the city on the plans. The small rink would not compete with the Treadwell Arena planned for Douglas, he said.
"We looked at it three years ago," he said. "It would be difficult to do in a permanent way. But a facility does seem feasible on a small scale."
The project would add about 21,000 square feet of new useable space to the Steamship Wharf-Marine Park area, in part by "decking over" open water. Approximately 6,000 to 7,000 square feet would be new green space, Beard said. Planners are trying to avoid installing curbs, to give the area more of a "plaza" feel, he said.
Rough estimates place the cost of the first phase of the project, including the plaza, parking spaces and "deck over," at $5 million, Stone said. If funding is available, the first phase of the project could be in place by summer 2003, he said.
The second phase of the project would reconfigure Marine Park, expand and possibly move the Marine Park shelter and add more benches, Stone said.
Assembly member Dale Anderson requested a meeting about the project cost estimate. The entire Princess dock cost $5 million, he said.
"I think we are on the right track, but I'm very concerned about the cost," he said. "Five million just may put it out of reach. ... Let's go through it with a fine-tooth comb and try to pare it down."
Assembly member Jim Powell asked the city to explore the possibility of using a semi-impervious surface.
"I'm cautiously optimistic, almost excited about the prospect of this," he said.
The city is sponsoring an open house tonight so people can see the conceptual drawings and ask questions. The meeting is from 5 to 7 p.m. in Assembly chambers.
Joanna Markell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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