City boards conflict on ideas for Bridge Park

Posted: Friday, October 29, 2010

Visions for the future of the Bridge Park concept - the area near the Douglas bridge where the old Public Works building is - conflict between at least two city boards.

The Parks and Recreation Committee and the Docks and Harbors Board held a joint meeting Thursday and addressed six issues, including Bridge Park.

Parks and Recreation wants to follow the long-range waterfront plan, adopted into a City and Borough of Juneau ordinance.

Jeff Wilson, PRAC chairman, said their plans include a lot of green space and improved waterfront access for residents. They would like to include a park, additional parking, a fishing pier, beach access, a picnic shelter and restroom, active play elements, a seawalk and environmental education opportunities.

Mike Williams, Docks and Harbors board member, said the Portland fishing community has issues about not having access to the waterfront.

"We want a lot of open space," he said. "I would like the waterfront to be developed wisely and cautiously. I would like to think a mix, a multi-use of everything is possible."

Wilson said he recognized there is a limited amount of waterfront space available.

Docks and Harbors is proposing putting Marine Services Center there. They also have in a rough plan a secure storage yard.

Gary Gillette, port engineer, was asked why Marine Services Center is "suddenly" thrown into the mix. He said they need to expand and it would be a good place. The center would not only be for that service, but it would move the port director's office there and add a community room.

"It's a concept we felt would fit there," he said.

Gillette said one concept shown included a Docks and Harbors location on the opposite side of the bridge, but they felt there isn't an adequate amount of space there.

He said another benefit of having the Marine Services Center in Bridge Park is because they are operational 24/7.

"They have a command center, they'd be there all the time," he said.

Gillette said transients live across the bridge and they tend to filter under and around the bridge. With that 24/7 presence, that would diminish in and around the park.

Docks and Habors also added a fish marketing area, kept the seawalk through the area, have a shelter and park, fishing pier and some green space. They envisioned a park plaza space and along the seawalk they thought pullout nodes with potentially covered picnic tables would be good.

Dixie Hood, PRAC member, disagreed with having any sort of building in that location. She said Juneau has a unique waterfront but there are a lot of "eyesore hotel buildings." Hood felt that any more buildings along the waterfront - office space or otherwise - would detract from the waterfront.

"Anything we can do to eliminate more buildings I think is more consistent with the waterfront plan and I hate to see that puny little bit left used for another building," she said. "It would be a really disturbing thing."

Docks and Harbors board members weren't so keen on some specs in PRAC's proposals.

Eric Kueffner said that if they're suggesting things not to do with that area PRAC shouldn't even consider a kayak launch site because it's a poor space for that kind of recreation.

Bob Wostmann added that with the current water traffic, more ingress or regress should not be a part of the plan and any recreation should be restricted to the shore.

Contact reporter Sarah Day at 523-2279 or at

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