Bridge park, seawalk project moves forward

Posted: Friday, October 15, 2010

Plans for turning an aging public works building near the Douglas bridge into a park area with perhaps an environmental museum and a seawalk are coming together.

Skye Stekoll, an engineer with the City and Borough of Juneau, showed the Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee three concept drawings put together by Tetra Tech. Stekoll said while there are three options, this doesn't mean any of the three are firm designs, as ideas within them can be interchanged or completely changed.

"Our goal is to figure out what we're going to do with this property next," he said.

Currently, the aging blue public works building has significant code deficiencies that Stekoll believes would make it extremely difficult to repurpose the building. Public Works will continue using the building for sand or snow storage in the winters, even though they've almost entirely moved into their new location.

Docks and Harbors, however is actively interested in keeping the structure around and using it for storage as well.

The three entities are still working on the finer details of how the area can be developed for recreation and still meet the needs of each other.

Two main areas of the project include the Public Works property under the bridge and a seawalk concept that would connect the property to downtown.

Some items in the concepts include a kayak rental and launch site, bicycle rental site, restroom, park, picnic shelter, sea plane float, beach access, a fishing pier, interpretive trail, environmental habitat, potential redevelopment of an existing pier that is currently closed off to the public and active play elements under the bridge such as a basketball court. Another idea is to have more connections to Egan Drive, opening the space up for a more public feel.

Stekoll said the seawalk could be a mix of upland structures or piledriven paths.

He also showed one area just off shore where someone at one point had attempted to dredge out a harbor. Stekoll said that would be a good place for an environmental habitat and there are many options for how to do that. Committee member Jim King said he believes it would be a good attraction because of the tidal pools. He said many are interested in the different kinds of life that can be found in them.

Chairman Jeff Wilson said the project is a "fabulous idea" recreation wise.

"This is really our chance to take it back for the public and make some use out of it," he said.

The project would likely be done in three phases. Stekoll said the current cost estimate is $15 million, recognizing that there are little funds left in the seawalk City Improvement Project fund. He said there are plenty of funds to continue planning for the project, and it may be eligible for state funds.

CBJ engineering will host a public meeting at 7 p.m. on Oct. 21 in the Assembly room seeking public comment on the concepts.

They also may be viewed online at

Contact reporter Sarah Day at 523-2279 or at

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