City ponders fee wish list

Visitor center, noise study among the proposals

Posted: Friday, June 23, 2000

Suggestions for spending proceeds from the city's new cruise ship passenger fee range from building a visitor center to expanding city bus service to stationing a tourism ``ambassador'' on the waterfront.

The $5.8 million wish list will go before the Juneau Assembly for consideration at its Monday work session.

The list was compiled by the city manager and reviewed by a Passenger Fee Proceeds Committee comprised of one member representing cruise industry interests, two members from the city Docks and Harbors Board, and two public members.

Among the 22 projects City Manager Dave Palmer has proposed are:

A visitor center -- with shops and restrooms -- which would house the Juneau Convention and Visitor's Bureau visitor staff and information center. Total funds allocated through fiscal year 2002: $1.25 million.

Seasonal expansion of the Capital Transit schedule to 30-minute bus service. Funding through fiscal year 2002: $350,000.

A baseline noise study costing $100,000.

Hiring of a consultant to mediate between flightseeing operators and critics of aircraft noise, $100,000.

Reconstruction of downtown sidewalks, streets and stairways: $125,000 through fiscal year 2002.

Other projects include building a new commercial hiking trail, hiring a trail monitor to keep an eye on commercial operators, and hiring an administrative assistant to support the city manager's tourism coordinator.

Though the committee returned the manager's list to him substantially unaltered, members attached their own comments expressing a variety of views.

``It's what you'd expect from such a diverse membership,'' said Deputy City Manager Donna Pierce.

The advisory committee held three meetings over a period of about a month, said A. Harley Clough, one of the committee's two Docks and Harbors members. And though overall the committee members signed onto the manager's list, each of the committee's constituencies ``pretty much wanted the money for themselves,'' he said.

Public member Robert Spitzfaden worried that some of the city manager's proposals promote growth of the tourist industry without addressing the impacts.

``A $50,000 project to rebuild the road to SAGA lodge to increase tourist access does not look at the impacts,'' Spitzfaden said. ``The same goes for the $97,000 in funding for the Juneau Convention and Visitors Bureau information services.''

Spitzfaden said he hoped the public would have an opportunity to learn about the recommendations and to send in their own ideas in to the city manager.

The assembly's Committee of the Whole meets at 5 p.m. Monday in the Assembly Chambers to consider the projects.

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