Norwegian Cruise Line wants public input on plans for its waterfront property on Egan Drive where the company intends to build a new cruise ship dock, said a representative from the company Wednesday during a digital meeting.
Norwegian has little use for the part of the property that isn’t the dock and hopes to turn it into a community asset, said Howard Sherman, executive vice president of onboard revenue and destination services for Norwegian, at the meeting.
“We don’t have much in the way of needs for the uplands portion of the site,” Sherman said, referring to the portion of the property on Egan Drive that Norwegian paid $20 million for last year. “We want to utilize the site in a way that will be most beneficial to Juneau.”
The company had met with representatives from around Juneau and had local architecture firm MRV Architects draw up preliminary concepts of what the site could look like based on feedback from the community. The images presented Wednesday show NCL’s dock being almost an exact extension of Whittier Street which runs perpendicular to the shoreline. Amenities like shore power, water and sewer connections and a way to offload its passengers to buses, Sherman said, aside from that the company is open to hearing feedback from the public.
A website has been set up with detailed information from the company’s consultations with local authorities like the Marine Exchange of Alaska and Anchorage-based PND Engineers showing navigational and structural analyses of the project so far.
Completing the seawalk from Mayor Bill Overstreet Park was at the top of the list for possible public amenities, said Paul Voelckers with MRV, as was the proposed Alaska Ocean Center and a park with green space. All renderings are purely conceptual at this point Voelckers said, and are subject to change depending on feedback.
Sherman and representatives from local organizations working with Norwegian answered questions from the public, many of which were concerned with the environmental and infrastructure impacts of an additional dock.
An additional ship dock would alleviate both those issues, Sherman said, as it would free up space at the city’s existing docks and allow all ships to tie up rather than idle in the harbor with their engines still running. It was unlikely that once Norwegian’s dock was finished a sixth ship would be allowed to idle in the harbor, said Ed Page, executive director of MEA. Having another ship idling in the harbor when Norwegian’s dock was finished would create a navigational hazard, Page said.
The Coast Guard declined to comment on the project at this stage spokesperson Kip Wadlow told the Empire Thursday, saying the organization would make its recommendation to the Army Corps of Engineers once permits for the project were in.
Additionally, Sherman said the dock’s location outside of the downtown corridor would alleviate congestion in that area as buses and other vehicles wouldn’t longer have to navigate through South Franklin Street.
The project is not yet at a place where the company can give a budget estimate, Sherman said, but he noted several times his superiors are eager to begin these kinds of projects.
“We always need to be building for the future. We’re actively building on where we think the future will require us to be. What that has meant recently is building in Alaska,” Sherman said. “We’ve got cash for a long period of time. Cash isn’t an issue for us going forward, but my budget is not unlimited and never will be.”
The company had wanted to hold community meetings in March, he said, but the coronavirus pandemic delayed that. But with news of a vaccine on the horizon and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently allowing cruise ships to resume some sailings, the company felt the time was right to hold those meetings.
MRV has set up a specific project page on their website that includes a survey Norwegian wants Juneauites to take before the next community meeting on Dec. 2. A still further meeting is scheduled for Dec. 28. The video recording of Wednesday’s meeting is also available.
• Contact reporter Peter Segall at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @SegallJnuEmpire.