City looks at sports field, parking

School: Harborview could lose some of its playing area

Posted: Wednesday, June 16, 2004

The city will refine a design to build a sports field at Juneau-Douglas High School and add more parking in the area, possibly next summer.

City and Juneau School District officials planning the next phase of renovating JDHS directed the city on Tuesday to further develop a design.

The project's cost will be determined at a later stage of design, said Gary Gillette, a city project architect.

The project will install a 155-by-300-foot playing field between the Augustus Brown swimming pool and the Marie Drake building. It will add about 34 parking spaces in the area from JDHS to the school district's central office next to Harborview.

It will create separate, small drop-off areas for Harborview and the adjacent Marie Drake building, which will gain up to 20 parking spaces, depending on how spaces are allocated.

The portion of F Street next to Harborview would be vacated. It is a short elbow that runs between the central office and the Harborview parking lot, and connects Glacier Avenue and 12th Street.

But to gain the necessary space, the project will cause Harborview to lose some of the play area in front of the school. And the city intends to cut down a dense grove of spruce trees at the corner of the Marie Drake building and the Harborview parking lot.

"We feel that the play areas can be reorganized to keep the same equipment," said city project architect Gary Gillette. The basketball court will remain, he added.

But Jetta Whittaker, a member of the Harborview site council, said losing play space for a few parking spaces wasn't a good tradeoff. The play area in front of the school gets sun in the winter, she said. The spruce grove is important to the council, she added.

The district estimates that Harborview would add four parking spaces and the adjacent central office would gain seven, although district officials could apportion them differently.

"We may end up with no net increase in parking and a chunk of play area lost, which I think is unacceptable," Whittaker said.

The Harborview site council preferred another design for the parking lot and traffic flow. It would have only one-way traffic exiting onto 12th Street at the corner of the school's gym, near where some students emerge from the school.

The planners' favored alternative has two-way traffic into and out of 12th Street and the parking lot.

"Oh, bad news," Whittaker said. Students will have to look both ways for traffic, she said. "It's an accident waiting to happen as it is. If they have two-way traffic, it will be more imminent," she said.

The two-way traffic offers more convenient access to the parking lot, Gillette said. But the city might look at adding another pedestrian walkway to Glacier Avenue from near the school gym. The plan already includes a wide pedestrian crossing from the front of the school to Glacier Avenue.

The plan also adds about 26 diagonal parking spaces between Glacier Avenue and the proposed playing field. Some spaces would be used by the swimming pool, to make up for parking spaces that would be removed from the area behind the pool, where students walk. The pool would end up with the same number of spaces.

Kim Kiefer, director of the city Parks and Recreation Department, said its advisory group preferred a plan that put the pool's replacement parking on the other side of the pool. The planners' preferred design requires pool patrons to walk farther and makes it harder for pool staff to monitor who is using the parking spaces, she said.

But the planners' design avoids putting parking between the play field and the pool, which allows for a longer but narrower field. That configuration was preferred by the JDHS phys ed staff.

The project also would add seven spaces in the lot in front of JDHS's main entrance.

Local bonds approved in 2003 created about $6 million for further renovations at JDHS. Gillette said it's not clear yet whether the state Department of Education will allow the city to use the bonds for the proposed parking changes at Harborview and the central office, which are not part of the high school.

• Eric Fry can be reached at eric.fry@juneauempire.com.



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