Assembly approves waterfront plan

Posted: Tuesday, October 26, 2004

After two years of work, the Juneau Assembly adopted its Long-range Waterfront Plan, which will determine Juneau's waterfront development for the next 20 years.

The plan includes strategies to enhance Juneau's 212-mile stretch of waterfront from the Douglas Bridge to the little rock dump off Thane Road. They include building a seawalk, expanding Marine Park, providing additional waterfront open space and recreation areas.

Also Monday, the Assembly voted to oppose a state proposal to allow increased pollution discharges in salmon spawning areas.

Assembly members Randy Wanamaker and Merrill Sanford said they want the Juneau Planning Commission to examine a revitalization plan for the subport area, which covers lands between Gold Creek and Centennial Hall. The Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority is the major land owner in the subport.

The waterfront plan was developed by the city, the Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority, Goldbelt and other agencies and completed in April of 2003.

"We worked hard for almost two years. All along, I was under the impression that the subport plan was going to be incorporated into the waterfront plan," Sanford said.

Wanamaker said the waterfront plan would be incomplete without the subport plan because the subport is an important element of the waterfront.

The Assembly directed the Planning Commission to review a letter from the Mental Health Trust at its meeting tonight.

In previous waterfront meetings, representatives from the Mental Health Trust recommended that the Assembly incorporate the subport plan in the waterfront plan. But Community Development Director Dale Pertula said the subport plan didn't receive as much public scrutiny as the waterfront plan.

"The Assembly will review recommendations from the Planning Commission. They may or may not adopt the subport plan," Pertula said.

Resident Joseph Geldhof, who represents the Marine Engineers' Beneficial Association District I, said the city should allow a cruise ship dock at the subport area.

"If we move the center of the gravity of tourism toward Gold Creek by developing the subport area, you will get more food traffic and less congestion on South Franklin Street," Geldhof said.

At the meeting, the Assembly joined four other municipalities in opposing new regulations the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation proposed to allow pollution mixing zones in fish spawning areas. Mixing zones allow heightened levels of pollution during dilution with cleaner water.

The four others that opposed the regulatory change are the Kenai Peninsula Borough, Soldotna, Homer and Petersburg.

"Commercial fishing is our largest private employer in Southeast Alaska. We depend on wild salmon," said Assembly member Marc Wheeler.

Barbara Belknap, former executive director of the Alaska Seafood Marking Institute, applauded the Assembly's decision.

"The Alaska Department of Fish and Game spent several years getting Alaska salmon certified by the Marine Stewardship Council, an international organization based in London that certified sustainable fisheries. Alaska salmon was the first significant fishery that the MSC certified," Belknap said. "If the mixing zone regulation becomes law, it is possible that Alaska would not pass the environmental criteria."

• I-Chun Che can be reached at ichun.che@juneauempire.com.



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