Commission asks for more work on city waterfront plan

Posted: Wednesday, February 25, 2004

Envisioning a great downtown waterfront may be easier than developing a waterfront plan.

The Juneau Planning Commission asked Tuesday night to see more work on the city's long-range waterfront plan that will shape development for the next 25 years from Douglas Bridge to the Little Rock Dump.

"Everyone is in agreement on the land uses," Commissioner Dan Bruce said.

But he said he had real concerns about how it would be implemented. Several times during the commission's discussion of the plan, he noted the need to inspire economic development in the area.

"If it's going to be built, we need someone to build it," he said.

Jeannie Johnson, who chairs the city's Waterfront Development Committee, said she appreciated the commission's comments. She noted that the Planning Commission will have to work with the plan. She said the biggest problems she heard concerned details that were discussed by the committee late in the process.

Some of the best points of the plan were barely discussed, if at all, she said.

"We like the seawalk," she said. "It's an avenue for everyone to enjoy the beautiful, rich part of the area."

Most of the commission's discussion involved details.

Commissioner Jim Scholz said he had a problem with the plan limiting the possibilities for another cruise ship dock. That could force a dock to Auke Bay or North Douglas, where it couldn't be supported.

"I'm concerned with the speed we're trying to push through a 25-year plan," he said.

Commission Chairman Johan Dybdahl said the plan will need to be something the community uses and not something that gathers dust on a shelf.

Dybdahl also questioned the reality of plan's cost. He said the seawalk was estimated at $2,000 per square foot.

"It's very expensive property," he said.

Commissioner Marshal Kend-ziorek suggested approving much of the plan while sending back its design criteria for more work.

The criteria allows property owners to build to within 10 feet of their property lines and no more than 35 feet high.

"We have a zero-foot setback on the waterfront now," Community Development Director Dale Pernula pointed out.

Kendziorek asked how the plan would be used to guide decisions in what could be permitted.

"My fear is the only thing that gets built is a nice shelf to put the plan next to other plans that don't get used," he said.

Pernula said he will take the commissioner's comments and put together recommendations for the Waterfront Development Committee.

• Tony Carroll can be reached at

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