City and Borough of Juneau officials are considering changes to the city’s waterfront — and asking residents to weigh in.
The city is considering amending the 2004 Long Range Waterfront Plan to allow a new cruise ship dock downtown. If the change is approved, it could clear the way for broader discussions with Norwegian Cruise Line, about the property the company owns on Egan Drive, and its hope to develop a large cruise ship dock there.
In a Zoom meeting Tuesday night, Alexandra Pierce, CBJ’s tourism director, told the 50 people in attendance that the meeting and public comment period are the first steps in the process to revise the almost 20-year old plan.
She said amending the long-term plan does not mean automatic approval of the NCL project.
“It’s the first step of many,” she said in the meeting.
The 2003 plan calls for mixed-use development, a marina and the seawalk along the waterfront as a unifying element tying different parts of downtown together.
Language in the current plan calls for “the creation of a floating marina facility capable of accommodating 45, 50-to-60-foot vessels and upward of 60, 20-to-30 foot vessels. Also provided is a +/- 1,000-foot floating exterior dock designed to support operations by small cruise ships, large transit yachts, visiting military vessels and other vessels contributing to an active and diverse working waterfront.”
The proposed amendment reads: “the CBJ Assembly voted to amend the tidelands portion of Area B (Figure 33, B2) to allow for creation of a dock facility capable of accommodating one large cruise ship as well as docking facilities for U.S. Coast Guard and NOAA vessels.”
CBJ City Manager Rorie Watt acknowledged that the decision to amend the plan could have significant implications.
“A cruise ship dock is a complicated topic and one you can’t easily walk back from,” Watt said, adding that the change is not a “slam dunk” for NCL, as the permitting process must still unfold.
Last autumn, residents had an opportunity to generally weigh in on cruise ship tourism and the NCL proposal through a tourism survey suggested by the Visitor Industry Task Force.
Overall, the survey results revealed that people in Juneau believe that the cruise industry provides more positive impact than negative. In addition, 56% of respondents said they support Norwegian Cruise Line’s proposal.
How to comment
Pierce said that detailed information about the current plan, the Visitor Industry Task Force report, and the proposed amendment are available online at juneau.org/tourism.
All public comments on the plan must be submitted via email to Alexandra.Pierce@juneau.org by Jan. 31.
Once the public comment period ends, Pierce will present an overview of the amendment and the public comment with the proposed amendment appearing on the Assembly’s agenda in February.
Dock electrification study now available for comment
Late last year, engineers and consultants shared the results of a study assessing what it will take to provide shore power to ships docked in Juneau’s city-owned cruise ship docks and how much it will cost to build the capacity.
The study includes conceptual plans, options and cost estimates and evaluates and estimates power availability for ships and how expanding electrified docks could affect electricity rates for customers in Juneau.
According to the study, Juneau currently has enough excess energy available to power docked cruise ships about 25% of the time–a claim that raised eyebrows among some assembly members and long-time advocates of shore power who contend that more power can and should be available.
The study is currently available for public review and comment. To review the study, visit the project’s web page https://juneau.org/harbors/project-archive/entry/69827.
A link to an online comment form is available on the site. Comments are due by Jan. 17.
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