Committee bunts on JACC discussion, eyeballs bidding on waterfront property

CoW votes to redraft JACC funding ordinance, may attempt to buy land by USCG station

The Juneau Committee of the Whole voted to redraft an ordinance to fund construction of the New Juneau Arts and Culture Center, clarifying some of its language in a Monday night meeting downtown.

It also moved to discuss bidding on a piece of waterfront land coming up for auction, as well as adopting some technical changes in legislative procedure and some alterations to the criminal justice code.

“We need this project in this community. We need this investment,” said Assembly member Michelle Hale, about the New JACC ordinance.

There were ambiguities in the phrasing of the proposed ordinances and disagreements between committee members on the precise amount to propose to vote on. The committee adopted a motion to have the proposed ordinance redrafted to reallocate $4.5 million in funding for the New JACC in a third version.

Committee of the Whole members also discussed a possible bid for a parcel of land located adjacent to the waterfront Coast Guard station and the old refueling pier. The land, presently owned by the Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority, is bordered by water, and could serve as the anchor point for a terminal for smaller cruise ships, a transportation hub, or the lynchpin of a water taxi/harbor shuttle service, said city manager Rorie Watt.

“I think this parcel offers us the opportunity to implement different staging ideas,” Watt said.

Putting together a bid will require $100,000 from the port development fund, which Watt said is already said aside. The minimum bid is $3.6 million; there will be an executive session on Aug. 19 to decide what bid the city will submit.

“I think it’s crucial that we maintain control of it,” said Assembly member Wade Bryson. “This is the last, most valuable piece of property in Juneau. I see this as a win-win-win, and the Juneau taxpayers are going to come out ahead if we are able to purchase this property.”

Not all committee members agreed.

“The best plan I’ve seen for this so far is a private company’s plan,” said Assembly member Rob Edwardson. “I like the idea of people using this area to do new things,” he added, saying that it should be people who have experience developing harbor property and generating a profit who should take possession of the area.

The State of Alaska also recently adopted a series of reforms to its criminal justice system, including revised sentences, reclassified crimes and clarified terms. Juneau routinely mirrors its criminal codes with the state’s criminal code, to reduce confusion and enable Juneau to prosecute crimes independently of the state.

“I am so tired of criminals and the community is fed up with it,” Bryson said, himself the victim of theft where the perpetrator was caught on camera but the dollar amount of goods stolen was too low to prosecute. “We have created a stronger group of criminals who have terrorized the community.”

The motion was passed, and the changes to Juneau’s criminal code will take place in the coming months.

• Contact reporter Michael S. Lockett at 523-2271 or

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