The City and Borough of Juneau is working with a private company (Morris Communications, the Empire’s former owner) to develop a stretch of downtown waterfront next to the downtown library. This development is known as the Archipelago project. The city’s interpretation of this project is that it will “provide necessary services to the vessel, to the passengers, and will advance the marine enterprise of the cruise ship industry,” City Manager Rorie Watt wrote in his manager’s report for this coming Monday’s CBJ Assembly meeting.
This topic will be the main focus of the Assembly meeting Monday night. There are several ordinances related to the project that are on the agenda and will be up for vote and public hearing.
Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) Alaska President John Binkley wrote in a letter dated Jan. 23 that in his interpretation of Holland’s ruling, the Archipelago project — which will include retail spaces, parking and a paved plaza among other developments — doesn’t serve the vessel. In a response dated Jan. 25, Watt pointed to a court case in the Ninth Circuit Court of appeals, Barber v. State of Hawaii, where the Court of Appeals ruled that on-shore projects including parking, restrooms and trash disposal in exchange for mooring fees were admissible.
Both Binkley and Watt expressed in their letters that they hope the two sides can work together in the future to do what’s best for the port, the cruise industry and Juneau. The number of cruise ship visitors to Juneau continues to rise, as 1.3 million people are expected to come through the capital city on cruise ships in 2019, according to CLIA projections.
Other topics up for vote include an ordinance that proposes building a new visitor kiosk downtown. According to Watt, the current kiosk is over 40 years old, has several safety deficiencies, and does not meet ADA requirements. The kiosk is beyond repair and needs to be replaced, he said in the agenda.
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