PARKS AND RECREATION ADVISORY COMMITTEE
January 19, 1999
Floyd Dryden Middle School Ė Commons Area
The meeting was called to order at 7:05 p.m. by Jim King, Acting Chair.
Members Present: Ken Dean, Glen Alt, Jim King, Katherine Gouyton, Alex Lukshin, Paul Grossi arrived at 7:30 p.m.
Members Absent: Dan King
Staff Present: Kim Kiefer, CBJ Parks and Recreation Director, Bob Grochow, CBJ Parks and Landscape Superintendent, Joe Buck, CBJ Engineering Director, Duane Doerflinger, DOT/PF, Bill Ballard, DOT/PF, Elmer Marks, DOT/PF, Chris Morrow, DOT/PF, Mark Miles, DOT/PF, Terri Beach, DOT/PF, and Monique Hickey, CBJ Secretary
Ex-Officio: Timi Hough, UAS
No public testimony on non-agenda items.
Kim Kiefer gave a brief description of the history of the Mendenhall River Pedestrian Crossing, quoting a letter from Mayor Dennis Egan to William Ballard of the Department of Transportation dated January 6, 1998. The first recognition of the communityís desire for a trail system along the Mendenhall River, with connections to surrounding valley neighborhoods, was formalized in a 1974 trails plan. The backbone of the system was a pathway along the Mendenahll River with bridges to the East Valley. The West Mendenhall Valley Greenbelt Plan was adopted by the City and Borough Assembly in November 1986. The master plan includes three Mendenahll crossings, with the Dimond crossing considered to be the most important. The location for the original crossing was for mid-Dimond Park. At that time, environmental agencies put together a preliminary plan, stating concerns for the riprap and the fill needed for the site. CBJ requested a review of the upper site and it was viewed as an acceptable alternative and is now being presented to the public. Kim also stated that Mary Rubadeau, Juneau School District Superintendent, supports a crossing on the Mendenhall River.
Alan Walker, 3437 Meander Way. He stated that he is opposed to the bridge crossing and believes that more studies need to be conducted, as well as more public input needs to be heard. He feels that the city and state are relying on plans from decades ago. He would like to know who identified the overwhelming public need for a bridge crossing. He is concerned with the Montana Creek degradation and the salmon habitat. He also stated that the construction up the road caused significant siltation since proper hay bales were not put out and, therefore, degraded the quality of the salmon stream. He is concerned that "sweepers" will take the bridge out during floods. He doesnít feel that the bridge has been designed, and planned, for catastrophes. He is concerned with commercial use being opened up to the trail if the bridge is built. He feels that the 38,000 river permits are too much already, and feels that the picnics they have at the mouth of Montana Creek have degraded the beach. There comes a point when neighborís rights need to be respected, and to say no to commercial use. He feels that the bridge would create a safety issue with kids viewing it as a swimming pool in the backyard. Vandalism is also a concern for him. He does not want to see the Tlingit carvings in the old growth spruce vandalized. He feels that the Kaxdigoowu Heen Dei trail is already accessible and that there is not a need for a bridge.
Kim Kiefer clarified that commercial use north of Montana Creek is not allowed. Clarification was also noted that "sweepers" were trees that have fallen into the water. Question was also raised how the bridge would be affected during floods. Duane Doerflinger replied that the bridge was designed for a 100 year flood level with 5 feet added to that. Alan Walker replied that he did not think that was enough clearance. Alan was asked if he was opposed to both the upper and lower crossings, or just the upper. Alan replied that he is not opposed to a crossing, but feels that the planning has not gone far enough. He feels that the environmental agencies are saying that the upper crossing is the lesser of two evils, and that they do not necessarily go along with a crossing.
Barbara Duncan, 3319 Meander Way. She stated that her house was built in 1980 and was the first house on the street. Since then, she has seen three 100 year floods come through the river. She stated that she was present to speak on behalf of Darcy Richards and Bill Hudson, as well as herself. She is concerned that some people in her neighborhood did not receive notification of this meeting. She stated that she bought her property because of the privacy and the greenbelt behind it. She feels that the bridge would destroy her view of Montana Creek, stating that she doesnít want to see an ugly arch when she looks out her kitchen window. She feels that the bridge would devalue her property, and wants to know if the city is willing to lower the mill rate. She is not opposed to the bridge farther down river where she canít see it. She doesnít want it in her neighborhood. She stated that Bill Hudson said that he is not going to let it happen in his neighborhood. She is concerned with the bridge being too accessible for kids to get into the river. She also stated her concerns for bears on the trail and in peopleís backyards and feels that itís absurd to think that kids will be safe. She also referred to the time when the rafters used to stop at the Montana Creek bridge and how much they trampled the beach. She feels that the proposed bridge would give rafters the option to pull out mid-river and trample the beach there. She does not want to see buses in this area either. She would like to see federal funds be used for current trails that are falling apart, such as the Mt. Roberts trail. She feels the Brotherhood trail is beautiful and that there is plenty of access the way it is. She doesnít mind driving to the trail.
Maureen Sams, 9006 Gee Street. She is surprised that there is such a so-called overwhelming need for a bridge crossing. She uses the trail and feels that it is not a problem to drive to the trail. She too feels that there is easy access to the trail the way it is. She feels that the bridge would create safety issues for kids, for instance, daring each other to jump off the bridge. She also feels that when the high school is built, the bridge would encourage teenagers to go smoke on the other side of the bridge, as well as trash the area. She is opposed to the bridge because she feels it would damage the fish stream and that children are going to get hurt.
Bill Chisham, 6550 North Douglas. He stated that he is in favor of a bridge crossing as long as it is built in the appropriate location. He believes a bridge would enhance the overall development of the trail system. The way it is now, not everyone can get to the trail. He feels that it is necessary to have access not just by vehicle, but by foot as well. He hopes that the PRAC can come to an appropriate decision.
Dale Campbell, 9399 Rivercourt Way. He stated that he is not opposed to trails or bridges, but stated that the proposed crossing is 150 feet behind his house. He doesnít think the proposed site is a good location since the bank is all glacial silt with no rock and, therefore, is not stable. The bank behind his property has eroded approximately 6 feet in the last 8 years and is continuing to erode. He also stated that there is an active eagleís nest at the proposed bridge site. As far as the bears go, he agrees that the greenbelt area is active with wildlife. He has seen about a half dozen bear every year in the area. He also stated that he did not receive notification of this meeting. He stated that he supports the trails and bridges, but hopes that the PRAC and DOT/PF take a look at another location, not outside his back window.
Mark Wilke, 9622 Eagle Street. He stated that his family uses the Kaxdigoowu Heen Dei trail at least once or twice a week. He supports the project and feels that the trail has become a recreation jewel for the city. He believes the bridge crossing could be a nice addition to the greenbelt plan. He feels that itís ironic that the Meander and Rivercourt neighbors are testifying against the bridge, since when their houses were built, many boulders and debris entered the water and changed the river drastically. He asks that the city and state think not only of the residents on river, but all the residents of Juneau.
James King, 7098 Sunny Drive. He feels that he has heard some valid concerns by the community regarding safety, degradation of land and tourism issues. However, he feels that itís important for the city and state to consider what is the best plan for enhancing the community. Itís important for the community to have a greenbelt area for families to use. He feels that itís important to have more recreation facilities to help get pedestrians off the road system. He feels that itís exciting that parents donít have to drive their kids to the woods, but that the kids can experience the environment from their back doors. He feels that the bridge crossing is an important project that will enhance the trail system.
Dennis Harris, 352 Distin Avenue. First of all, he stated that he is tired of hearing people say that they donít want this or that in their backyard. Regarding the proposed bridge site, although he understands the intention of building a bridge that can withstand floods, he feels that the bridge is too much for what is needed - that it is overdesigned. He believes that the city should have purchased the greenbelt on both sides of the river back in 1974. He is concerned with the bridge crossing being too close to the high school and the area turning into another Evergreen Cemetary where teenagers hang out, smoke, vandalize and trash the place. He supports a crossing since the Brotherhood and River Road bridges are dangerous for pedestrians. He also mentioned the possibility of widening the Brotherhood Bridge. He believes there should be an upper and a lower crossing on the Mendenhall River.
Joe Heueisen, 3311 Meander Way. He too is frustrated with people saying they donít want this or that in their backyard. He uses the trail frequently and does not have a problem going around the river to use it. He doesnít feel that the valley should have to be "paved" or that there needs to be additional access to the trails. Part of the beauty of the trail system is that itís not that accessible and paved. He doesnít feel that there is a burning need to have this bridge. He feels that the parking lots at either end of the Kaxdigoowu Heein Dei trail are adequate. If a bridge must be built, it should be built either at a lower site or upper site. He also feels that the money should be used on trails that are in severe need of repair.
Jim Donaghey, 3339 Meander Way. He is a user of the Kaxdigoowu Heen Dei trail and feels that if itís too accessible, it will deteriorate and lose some of its pristine beauty. If the bridge has to be built, he feels that it should be located downstream, somewhere closer to the school where he canít see it.
William Fritz, 4120 Birch Lane. He thinks the bridge is a good idea, but that the location of the bridge should be upstream where the land is not developed, or near Riverbend Elementary. He too is concerned about safety when crossing the Brotherhood Bridge on bicycles. He thinks that a loop around the park would be beneficial. He thinks people need to think more as a community other than as individuals.
Linda Shipman, 9394 Rivercourt Way. She walks on the trail every day. She is concerned about the trail from Riverside to the bridge because it goes behind her house. She is also concerned with blow downs, vandalism and trespassers.
Dennis Demmert, 9337 Turn Street. He uses the trail frequently both to walk on and bike on, and he is happy that the city put it in. He lives on the east side of the river, which is referred to as the heavily populated side. He doesnít feel there needs to be greater access to what is already there. He feels that, if needed, more parking can be added to either end of the trail. However, he too is concerned with pedestrian safety of the Brotherhood and River Road bridges. He feels that a better location for the bridge would be near the already exisiting Brotherhood bridge. He stated that the Mayor stated in his letter that he supported the location south of the confluence, but now the location is for north of the confluence and he wonders if the Mayor would still support this. He doesnít see a need for the bridge or a value in the proposed site. However, if one must go in, he prefers it to be downstream.
End of Public Testimony
Duane Doerflinger stated that the bridge location can be moved, but it would be a matter of environmental permits, geotechnical concerns, structural designs, and cost increases. It was noted that $100,000 of CBJ money is already dedicated for the bridge crossing and the total project budget is $1.6 million.
Bill Ballard of DOT stated that they are still in the environmental phase and that this public meeting is part of what the process is all about. At this point, they can either move forward with this site, look at another site, or not build a bridge at all.
Jim King had to leave the meeting so Alex Lukshin continued as the Acting Chair.
Glen Alt stated that the consensus from the public testimony is that people are not necessarily opposed to a bridge, but they seem opposed to the location. He suggested revisiting the original site. Kay Gouyton commented that the original site kept within the continuity of Riverbend, actually creating an extension of the school grounds and that the location was more centrally located and, therefore, a benefit to both schools.
Chris Morrow and Duane Doerflinger stated that the environmental agencies thought the original site was acceptable, but CBJ was worried about the site. Joe Buck, CBJ Engineering Director thought the upper site might be a cheaper alternative.
THE PRAC MADE A MOTION TO RECOMMEND REVISITING THE ORIGINAL PREFERRED ALTERNATIVE LOCATION, AND IF IT IS FOUND TO BE UNACCEPTABLE, THEN TO GO FORWARD WITH THE CURRENT PROPOSED SITE. THE MOTION PASSED 4-1.
The meeting was adjourned at 9:35 p.m.