Consulting firm gathers more input on waterfront plan

Planner explores ways to make Juneau waterfront a year-round attraction

Posted: Friday, June 20, 2003

Milling among dozens of colorful maps in a room at Centennial Hall, citizens took time Thursday to give Miami-based consultant Scott Lagueux an earful on Juneau's future waterfront.

Lagueux, with the firm Bermello, Ajamil & Partners, is in the third phase of community meetings in the creation of a plan that will guide the development of Juneau's waterfront for the next 20 years. Lagueux gathered comments from public meetings on Wednesday and Thursday nights, as well as Thursday's all-day question-and-answer session. Another question-and-answer session will be held today from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Mendenhall Mall, Suite 360.

The latest draft represents the general direction community members have said they would like to go, Lagueux said. The draft has been separated into six geographic zones. For each zone, Lagueux has envisioned a series of possible development plans. At the question-and-answer session, citizens studied the plans, filled out rating cards and made comments.

"The plan offers a broad range of alternatives," said Clark Gruening, as he studied a color-coded map of possible future development. "I'm not sure all of them are compatible."

Gruening studied Zone B, which comprises roughly the area from Alaskan and Proud to the Goldbelt Hotel. Throughout the process, community members have been divided over whether and how to build a new cruise ship dock or docks there. Gruening said he was concerned about how docked cruise ships would affect the views of people who live downtown. He was also interested in more diverse development, with smaller marinas and residential areas.

"To have development, we have to have a sound economic base. It should be diversified, and that means more than just cruise ships." he said. "We know what makes downtown an enjoyable place to live. We want to enhance that, not detract from it."

Lagueux talked about how Juneau could maximize existing investments in the cruise industry with planning. He concurred with Gruening that development should be diversified, with residential and mixed-use areas.

"What needs to be explored is how to make it more of a year-round waterfront," Lagueux said.

Examining a map of downtown Juneau, contractor Bill Heumann pointed out the downtown buildings he owns and recounted for Lagueux the way South Franklin has changed over the last 20 years.

"Tourism has caused South Franklin to be transformed from a slum to a vibrant economic area," he said.

Heumann's concern was that all the city departments are not "working from the same page" in terms of waterfront development downtown, and he questioned what role the plan would play in terms of guiding organized development on South Franklin.

Karla Hart spoke with Lagueux for some time and wrote a note detailing her concerns and suggestions.

"It's a facilities plan, and it's missing the impacts and what will happen to the outlying community," Hart said, adding that increased cruise ship traffic means increased wildlife and flight-seeing tours, which would have an impact on people who don't live downtown.

Lagueux said the plan's mission is to provide guidance for development and his recommendations will include suggestions for impact studies.

"We certainly have to make sure with these bigger ideas that we can measure the positives and the negatives with their impacts," Lagueux said. "We can't study the entire universe, but we can make sure we are not making decisions in a vacuum."

Before Lagueux develops more specific plans, Bermello, Ajamil & Partners likely will mail a survey to gather more feedback.

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