A city-owned warehouse about a mile south of the Goldbelt Tram is scheduled to open as a winter warming shelter starting Friday. The shelter will have cots, hand-washing stations, outdoor portable restrooms and other basic services. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

A city-owned warehouse about a mile south of the Goldbelt Tram is scheduled to open as a winter warming shelter starting Friday. The shelter will have cots, hand-washing stations, outdoor portable restrooms and other basic services. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

City: Emergency warming shelter to be open daily 9 p.m.-7 a.m. (8 a.m. Sundays) starting Friday

Multiple evening shuttles from Glory Hall and downtown, one in morning from Thane shelter planned

This is a developing story.

The city’s emergency warming shelter will be open daily from 9 p.m. to 7 a.m. (8 a.m. on Sundays) at a Thane warehouse about a mile south of downtown, with multiple shuttles available for people arriving and a shuttle available back to town when the shelter closes, the city announced Friday.

The shelter at 1325 Eastaugh Way, in an industrial and business area, off Thane Road will be operated by St. Vincent de Paul Juneau. The space will feature cots, food, hand-washing stations and other essentials, with portable toilets outside the shelter entrance.

[Security and other impacts of winter warming shelter on nearby businesses raise concerns]

While the shelter in previous years was intended to be open on nights when temperatures were at or below freezing, it has been open on warmer nights in recent years and will be open every day until it closes next spring for a couple of reasons, said Dave Ringle, SVDP Juneau’s executive director.

“Number one, I’m going to have employees working (and) to get employees in this difficult job market you’ve got to guarantee them pay,” he said. “Number two, this has been the tradition for actually the last two or three years.”

The shelter has 40 cots provided by the city and enough blankets for the first night, but is seeking more, Ringle said. More than 70 people stayed at the warming shelter hosted by Resurrection Lutheran Church during its busiest nights during the past year.

Shuttles to the shelter “will depart from the Glory Hall at approximately 8:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. each night, stopping at Foodland IGA and the Downtown Transit Center on the way to the shelter,” according to the city’s announcement.

“The shuttle will make additional trips to Foodland and the DTC at approximately 11 p.m., 12 a.m., and 1 a.m. The inbound shuttle will take passengers into town shortly after the shelter closes at 7 a.m.”

The shuttle will leave an hour later on Sunday, so the shelter will remain open longer as well, Ringle said.

People arriving at the shelter will be required to provide their names and follow the facility’s rules, Ringle said. He said shelter staff will make every effort to address problems without forcing people to leave the shelter overnight, but transporation will be available at all hours just in case.

“Leaving somebody outside on Thane Road is not going to be an acceptable option,” he said.

Use of the city-owned warehouse as a shelter requires official approval by the Juneau Assembly, which is scheduled to consider the matter for the first time Monday and would have to wait until a subsequent meeting to approve an ordinance authorizing the facility. But city and SVDP leaders opted to open the shelter beforehand due to sub-freezing temperatures expected this weekend.

The city’s statement notes funding to operate the shelter was included in the budget for the current fiscal year approved by the Assembly earlier this year.

Deputy City Manager Robert Barr, in an interview Friday, said he didn’t immediately know the exact amount of the operating contract with SVDP, but $250,000 was a ballpark figure. A contract for $285,000, plus a possible “usage fee,” was discussed weeks ago with Resurrection Lutheran Church, which operated the shelter the past two years, but saw division among congregation members about doing so this year.

Barr, in a previous interview, said the fact the Thane warehouse is owned by the city would likely affect the amount of the shelter contract with its operator.

While the contract for the coming winter has been signed with SVDP, leaders at Resurrection Lutheran Church are circulating a petition to have the shelter again be located at the church, citing concerns about shortcomings at the warehouse and failure by the city to follow the official public process.

People needing shelter-related transportation outside scheduled hours can call (907) 419-7660 during the shelter’s working hours, according to the city. St. Vincent de Paul is also accepting donations of blankets for the shelter at its complex at 8617 Teal Street during daytime office hours (9 a.m.–4 p.m. weekdays), or at 1325 Eastaugh Way during warming shelter working hours.

• Contact Mark Sabbatini at mark.sabbatini@juneauempire.com or (907) 957-2306.

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