What's up with that?

The Empire ponders Juneau's puzzles, unravels its mysteries and contemplates its conundrums.

Posted: Thursday, August 08, 2002

Q: I'm excited to see all the work that's being done out at Eagle Beach, but I'm still waiting for the potholes to be fixed on the little gravel loop road that goes to the Eagle Beach picnic shelter. Could you please find out if any of the funds for park improvements will go toward helping that little road and its sorry state?

A: No funds from all of that work to construct facilities for the Eagle Beach State Recreation Area will go to the potholed loop because it isn't on state land.

While the majority of the Eagle Beach area is being developed as a state park by the state Division of Parks and the state Department of Transportation, state Division of Parks Area Superintendent Bill Garry said a parcel of about 45 acres, including the loop road and the picnic shelter, still belong to the U.S. Forest Service as the Eagle Beach Picnic Area.

But don't fret, because the Forest Service may be close to patching up the road.

Facilities Engineer Lelia Vollmer said there are a number of U.S. Forest Service infrastructure contracts in the works in Southeast - including fixing the Eagle Beach road - that have been put on hold temporarily .

"We got money allocated to award them, but last week we had a freeze of purchasing because of the fires down south," she said. "We know it's a bad situation. Hopefully we'll be able to move ahead."

Vollmer said complaints about the potholes have been a recurring theme in her 10 years on the job with the Forest Service.

"Every year it's something with that road," she said. "It's been a thorn in my side."

The 45-acre parcel that includes the picnic shelter and loop road is identified as property that will be shifted from federal to state control at some point in the next few years.

"Sometime in the future the land will be state land, and probably managed by the State Park System - but not yet," Garry said.

Meanwhile, the park improvements just down the highway from the "old" Eagle Beach area are just about ready to be opened up for public use. The state DOT and the project contractor were still finalizing the contract as of last week, Garry said, but for all Juneauites who have had their eyes on the fresh pavement and brand-new hiking paths, your wait is almost over.

And a What's Up heads up about the Tongass National Forest. Aug. 20 is the forest's 100th birthday; President Theodore Roosevelt signed a proclamation bringing its predecessor, the Alexander Archipelago Forest Reserve, into existence on Aug. 20, 1902.

A number of events in celebration of the Tongass centennial will be held Aug. 11-17. For more information, visit the centennial Web site at www.fs.fed.us/r10/tongass/centennial/index.html.

Q: What have you heard about Wal-Mart coming to Juneau and where they might put the store?

A: What we've heard is that Wal-Mart is not coming to Juneau at this time.

Peter Kanelos, a Wal-Mart community affairs manager for California, Alaska and Hawaii, said any rumors that may be going around town are not true.

"We don't have anything planned at this time in Juneau," he said.

But, Kanelos added, "we're still looking throughout the state" for future store locations, so a Juneau Wal-Mart is not entirely out of the question for some point in the future.

Store location is something that can drive rumors of Wal-Mart - or any other national chain - coming to a town. Kanelos said a landowner may plan a development hoping to draw businesses, and the names that get tossed around sometimes get transformed in the rumor mill from potential tenants to certain tenants.

According to the company Web site, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. now operates more than 4,300 - 4,300! - Wal-Mart stores, Supercenters, Sam's Club and other outlets in the United States and eight other countries, employing more than 1.3 million workers.

In Alaska, Wal-Mart stores can be found in Anchorage (two), Eagle River, Wasilla and Ketchikan.

Andrew Krueger can be reached at akrueger@juneauempire.com. Questions can be addressed to: "What's Up With That?," Juneau Empire, 3100 Channel Drive, Juneau, AK 99801 or e-mailed to: whatsup@juneauempire.com.

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