Shades of belle blue! Blue who? (Boo hoo! is what I say.) Echoes of the past. A monstrous construction project is being proposed for the waterfront gateway to Juneau's downtown, with questionable process and undue speed.
I am talking about the parking garage and transit center proposed for Main Street and Egan Drive, across from Merchants Wharf. Why no public outcry? Because we the public did not know what we were voting for on Oct. 4, 2005, and now we haven't any clue what is in store for us.
Everybody says we need parking downtown, don't they? So what's the matter? Following is a short list:
Intrusive scale and mass in a sensitive view plane.
Far more costly than predicted and lack of sufficient and appropriate funding.
Provides half the number of promised parking spaces and no elevator.
Inconsistent with the 2003 Transit Study recommendations for a site location.
Inconsistent with the Long Range Waterfront Plan, adopted in 2004.
Noise from blasting and scraping of rock on Telephone Hill will be unbearable for residents, business owners and visitors 10 hours a day, six days a week throughout the 2008 tourist season.
Unacceptable increase in traffic congestion.
"Dead space" and safety concerns because of mixed usage with attractions for public activity
Interferes with the setting for the future state Capitol, needed to accommodate the Legislature and ensure that the seat of state government stays in Juneau.
Other parking options and a downtown circulating shuttle not considered to relieve traffic congestion.
This plan serves special interests, not the public interest. There has been a failure in parking management. There should be community consensus before any project of this magnitude is imposed upon us.
The public needs to be informed. A public meeting is scheduled for Wednesday at 7 p.m. at the Assembly chambers. Please come. Even if this in Not in Your Backyard (NIMBY), Neighbors Joining Neighbors for Juneau (NJNFJ) is needed now. Things are on a "fast track." We need to say "Whoa! Back up."
Back to Belle Blue. Those who have lived in Juneau for the past 25 years will remember her one-woman legal crusade against the city for proceeding with the Marine Park parking garage without going through the proper bidding procedure. She famously won her case, but then the judge determined that so much money had already been spent on construction that it was not reasonable to demolish the building. So there it was. Until the library was designed and added on top, it was the same unattractive concrete box we are being faced with again.
The current Long Range Waterfront Plan states on page 52: "The scale and mass of the Library and Parking Garage should not be duplicated along waterfront parcels. Where possible, wrap the garage with commercial/cultural activity, public art, and/or landscaping. This treatment should be pursued for southeast corner of the Library Parking Garage with the buildout of a small cultural center or for rent commercial property; new restrooms in the area should be incorporated if feasible."
Dixie Hood is a Juneau resident.
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