A consulting firm that has been studying waterfront development issues since February is recommending that Juneau adopt a waterfront master plan now and talk about development of cruise ship docks later.
About 50 people attended a meeting Monday night at Centennial Hall for a presentation by the Florida-based consulting firm Bermello, Ajamil and Partners.
Scott Lagueux of Bermello, Ajamil and Partners recommended that the city postpone city dock expansion for six months to a year to better analyze some of the impacts of cruise ship expansion.
Lagueux said if cruise ship development does not happen in the downtown area it could be moved somewhere else, such as Auke Bay or out Thane Road.
"Adopt the plan. Let's be done with it," he said.
A power point presentation by Lagueux stated that much is unknown about how many jobs would be created by more cruise ships, what it would cost and whether or not it would be worth it.
He also recommended weighing the pros and cons of developing cruise-ship traffic in locations other than downtown. He added that the city should manage the process through the Juneau Port Development committee.
Lagueux said a public poll by the Juneau-based consulting firm the McDowell Group showed strong support for a seawalk and additional parks, walkways and improvements between the Douglas Bridge and Gold Creek area.
It also showed 67 percent of the respondents said they did not support establishing cruise ship docks at the subport area. Seventy-three percent were supportive of a seawalk running from the Douglas Bridge out to the AJ Rock Dump.
Now that the concept plan is complete, the community will be given the opportunity to comment. Those comments will be sent back to Bermello, Ajamil and Partners and worked into a final master plan.
That master plan will be presented to the Juneau Assembly for adoption into the city's Comprehensive Plan, a blueprint for future land use throughout the borough.
Deputy City Manager Donna Pierce said the goal is to have the plan adopted by December.
Some of the proposals in the study include:
Area A (Douglas Bridge to Gold Creek): park-and-ride center, public parking, beginning of the seawalk.
Area B (Subport area): new hotel, office and retail space, expansion of the Alaska State Museum and Centennial Hall.
Area C (Marine Park area): expansion of the park, new state capital building and complex.
Area D (Franklin Street corridor): cruise ship terminal expansion and improvements.
Area E (AJ Rock Dump area): creation of the Jacobson Trust dock, additional light-industrial properties.
Area F (Little Rock Dump area): creation of a working waterfront dock and marina.
Part of the conceptual plan recommends removing part of Merchant's Wharf to provide all-weather outdoor dining and additional seawalk area.
Joe Sonneman, of the advocacy group Parks and Gardens, said 350 people have signed a petition to devote the waterfront area to green space.
"The concept is more parks and gardens instead of more cruise ships," Sonneman said.
He said the petition is not an effort to halt economic development.
"We're only talking about the water side of the road system," Sonneman said. "There's only one waterfront."
Mayor Sally Smith, who attended a presentation to city officials earlier in the evening, called the concept plan "reasonable and workable," noting that many of the particulars shown in the presentation have been around for a long time.
"I hope the Assembly will support most of what they've seen," she said.
Check out www.juneauwaterfrontplan.com for more information.
Timothy Inklebarger can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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