The following comments were made Monday night by Juneau Assembly member Randy Wanamaker during discussion of the Steamship Wharf/Marine Park project.
I speak in favor of the motion (to move forward with the Alaska Steamship Wharf/Marine Park project). First, I want to thank everyone who contacted me to express support, ideas and concerns regarding the project. I have considered those comments and they can be summarized as:
The city may be going too fast.
The city may be giving up its authority.
The city needs to have a comprehensive plan for everything first.
The bus staging will interfere with the public's use of the space.
We will turn an open space into an industrialized zone.
The tourists won't spend their money in the downtown area.
I considered all of those issues and I support the project because:
1. I do not think we are going too fast. This project has been considered in several forms for several years and a lot of thought has gone into it.
2. Open public dialogue among various parties does not compromise the city's authority. When parties enter into an agreement, the agreement essentially spells out the processes by which things are done. The Assembly can't give up its authority and the city attorney will always let us know what we may or may not do.
3. I agree on the need for a comprehensive plan but sometimes certain elements have to be decided and acted upon before a larger plan is complete. This is one of those times! The Assembly has enough information and we must act or risk losing time unnecessarily.
4. I don't think the bus staging will interfere with the public's use of this area. The buses will only be there a limited amount of time during a limited part of the year. The rest of the year and the rest of the time the public will have an open community space to use for community activities such as the Juneau Jumpers, the Celebration Dancers and other recreational, musical and artistic activities.
5. This project will provide our community with usable space for family and community activities while accommodating seasonal commercial activities. It will also help to eliminate severe traffic congestion.
6. Tourists will spend their money downtown as a result of the wharf improvements. While it is true many of them will simply go on bus tours, the fact is many of them will visit local shops that are in close proximity to the unloading area. If we make our downtown area useful and attractive, many of the passengers will visit and shop in the nearby downtown businesses.
Finally, I favor this project because it gives us a chance to showcase to the world the multicultural beginnings of the Juneau-Douglas community. The interest and support from the community for a cultural gateway is very strong.