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The Juneau Assembly appropriated $219,000 from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security at its regular meeting Monday, which includes $75,000 to purchase a closed circuit surveillance system for the new downtown cruise ship docks being considered. The remaining funds will be used to purchase a new Docks and Harbors boat, with search and rescue and firefighting capabilities.
The ordinance appropriating the funds had been tabled at the Sept. 24 Assembly meeting to address questions regarding port security requirements, including who would have access to the surveillance footage. Although there is no specific requirement for ports to use video surveillance, federal regulations require they have the ability to continuously monitor the ports.
"There are several ways to provide continuous surveillance, and one of the more effective ways is with a camera system," Port Director John Stone said. "But basically we have staff that monitors that camera system, and we do that because it saves us from having to have a whole lot of port employees do the same thing."
The new surveillance cameras would be installed as part of the downtown dock project the city is considering, which would allow for larger cruise ships to dock in Juneau. Stone said a financing plan for the project was recently presented to the Assembly and is under advisement. There has been increased public dialogue about the new docks, and a lot more work needs to be done before the project becomes a reality, he said.
"It's a pretty large investment, so I think everybody has to be comfortable with it before you go forward with it," Stone said. "I think we have more work to do before everyone is comfortable with it."
If the dock project does not go through, the city may have to give the money back. Juneau also could potentially add cameras to the existing docks, Stone said. If the project goes ahead as planned, Docks and Harbors would install two or three cameras at each dock, he said.
Docks and Harbors also is considering installing surveillance cameras in other locations, Stone said. It presently has one surveillance camera at the Don Statter Harbor in Auke Bay, and has had requests from the public to install others, including one at the North Douglas boat launch to thwart vandalism, he said.
"We are looking at surveillance at some of the other harbors," Stone said. "They're not inexpensive, so you can't put them everywhere people want them."
Stone said the community can expect to see the new 32-foot landing craft boat at work for Docks and Harbors in the next six to nine months. It will replace the oldest of its three vessels, he said.
"It will actually be our biggest and best boat," Stone said.
Also at the Monday meeting, the Assembly appropriated roughly $1.72 million from the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities for the replacement of city buses and vans. The funds, approved by the Alaska Legislature in 2006 as part of the Statewide Transportation Improvement Program, will go toward replacing five buses in the Capital Transit fleet.
City Manager Rod Swope said the new vehicles would replace five 1992 buses and complete the fleet's replacement cycle.
"The fleet will be all new since 2001," he said.
Assembly member Bob Doll asked if there were any options to operate the new buses with alternative fuel.
Swope said the buses would not use alternative fuel but said the city continues to look at securing funds for buses that operate by alternative means. The city is interested in looking at the possibility of using electric buses for downtown, he said.
Contact Eric Morrison at 523-2269 or email@example.com.