An absurd idea

Posted: Thursday, April 25, 2002

I am puzzled why there hasn't been more public outcry over the Assembly ramrodding the funding of the bus parking expansion in Marine Park. Maybe people are tired of the issue or think there is no hope of changing this decision. However, I find this project difficult to choke down and have to add my two cents.

Adding more bus parking in Marine Park is an absurd idea. It's as ridiculous as when the Assembly decided to build the parking garage on the waterfront in early '80's. Where is Belle Blue when we need her?

The noise, congestion and pollution more buses will bring are enough reasons to turn thumbs down on this project. The fact that this area is the only public access to the downtown waterfront is another reason to dump this plan. Not to mention spending between five and six million bucks to build spaces for five more buses - over a million bucks a bus.

I can understand why some uptown merchants - those closer to Marine Park - favor this plan. There are fewer tourists reaching this far uptown since the dock on lower Franklin was built. The merchants' hope is the new bus area will bring more walk-in traffic to their shops. I don't think five more buses will bring in many more tourists to the uptown area. Certainly not enough to compensate for the increase in noise, congestion and pollution. Besides, how come there are not more tourists already in this area? There already is parking for seven buses and huge tour ships tie up along the waterfront near Marine Park all summer long. So why aren't there more tourists roaming uptown? I think the reason is they get on the buses and go on their tours out of town.

The Mendenhall Glacier or the Juneau Icefield or flightseeing are their destinations and Marine Park is simply a staging area to pick them up and drop them off.

There are many other aspects of this project that smell rotten: The funding, and how the plan was railroaded through the Assembly after the meeting between Juneau public officials and cruise industry people in Vancouver. A funding source for the project has not been identified. Will the Assembly try and fund it out of passenger fees? The project should be funded entirely out of the tonnage tax, a tax this Assembly may try and do away with. Also, why are the city manager and deputy city manager resigning? A good reporter could have a hay day with this story.

I think the pollution, congestion and noise created by this project are enough reasons to dump it. I encourage the readers to let their voice be heard before we make another bad decision.

Paul Helmar


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