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Halt the downtown garage project

Posted: Sunday, September 07, 2008

It's time to ask the Juneau Assembly to halt the downtown parking garage steam roller.

This project, never adequately studied to begin with and selected solely by the city manager and staff, has been controversial from the start. Now the project is at its final hurdle - acquiring title to the necessary land on Telephone Hill from the state of Alaska. Acquiring use of the land will increase the cost by $6.4 million. Now it is time for the public to weigh in on whether the cost increase is worth it.

What would we get for $6.4 million? The state acknowledges that it is indebted to the city of Juneau for about $6.4 million - $2 million the city gave to the state in 1984 for a Capitol that never happened. The state kept the $2 million, which with interest has grown to $6.4 million. The state wants the city to forgive the debt in exchange for a 30-year lease on the property.

Negotiations have been behind closed doors, but the result is clear: an extra $6.4 million for a parking garage of questionable utility to begin with. It's never discussed whether the parking garage will actually be a disincentive or obstacle to building a new Capitol.

Ordinance 2008-29, to be considered for adoption by the Assembly on Monday, requires the city of Juneau to abandon its legitimate financial claim to a very large sum of money. Whatever value the parking garage may have for some, it is not worth an additional $6.4 million demanded by the state.

Margo Waring

Juneau

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