Shipyard could be a better use of old Public Works site

Posted: Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Juneau is in an enviable position. The number of ugly, noisy industrial sites in this city can be counted on one hand: Lemon Creek around Costco and Home Depot, the Rock Dump, Industrial Blvd., and certain areas around the harbors are about all that come to mind.

Now I see the city is considering trying to make a silk purse from the sow's ear of the Public Works building and lot under the Juneau-Douglas bridge. The ideas floated in a story titled "Bridge Park, Seawalk project moves forward" in the Oct. 15 Empire are all recreational. But no amount of development will stop the traffic noise from the bridge, or calm the winds and current that funnel through that area, or sweeten the smell of the spawned-out salmon that collect on shore.

Instead of tearing down the existing structures and trying to pretty up the area, why doesn't the city try to lure one of the dozens of marine-related businesses that are being gentrified out of their locations all along the west coast? We could lease the lot at a favorable rate and tax it as raw land, and bring in new jobs and economic diversity instead of another expense. A ship yard specializing in building fishing vessels would seem to be an ideal use of such a site, and would lend the city the "authenticity" tourists crave. Perhaps one of our existing ship yards would welcome an opportunity to grow into a new site.

Either way, there are many areas with far greater potential to develop into recreational land. I hope that the city will consider more productive use of this rare, industrial corner of Juneau.

William Rose


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