Paving over an additional 3.9 acres of intertidal area from Bay Creek to Statter Harbor was not what many expected when they voted for improvements to Statter Harbor. Apparently the general public was unaware a parking lot with over 200 spaces would be the main improvement, while the De Hart's floats, judged in 2008 to be at the end of their useable life, remain.
The proposed fill area is across from Squire's Rest and the Thai restaurant. The Fish & Game website points to this exact spot for wildlife viewing in Juneau. It is where about 20 seals spent this past winter foraging daily. Moving ahead on the proposal found in the Draft Environmental Assessment on Statter Harbor's website, www.statterharbor.com, would decimate the estuarine habitat for all the wildlife there. Go to Chapter 6, page 68 of the EA for a visual of the project proposal. A finding of "No Significant Impact" is incomprehensible. The aesthetic value and ecological impact haven't been considered enough.
There is no question there are problems at Statter Harbor, but this project approaches the problems with a badly-aimed sledgehammer. The scale of the project is too expansive and the impact to the intertidal habitat has been downplayed. Critical safety concerns, such as the condition of the floats, are glossed over in favor of exaggerated parking area. The parking lot across from Squire's Rest and Chan's wasn't even full last year during the Derby or on holiday weekends. At a 2008 meeting on Statter Harbor Improvements, John Stone said "parking and boating activity are down at this time due to high gas prices." Gas is still expensive today. The need for this much parking has also been reduced by shifting some operations to the Auke Nu facility and eliminating the proposed retail spaces. The grandiose master plan just isn't appropriate anymore. It merits reevaluation and more careful environmental evaluation.
After insufficient notice to the general public and a nudge from concerned citizens, the comment period has been extended until May 17. Encourage more responsible development and improvements for our tax dollars. Read the Draft Environmental Assessment online at www.statterharbor.com or pick up a paper copy, which are now available in all the libraries. Submit comments to firstname.lastname@example.org or call her at 907-586-2093 by May 17.