Mendenhall River project on hold

    Juneau, Alaska (KINY) The issue of whether or not residents would have to pay for river structures that would help reduce erosion damage has been put to rest for now.

    The CBJ Assembly last night decided against moving forward with the $11.4 million project along the Mendenhall River.  They had worked two years wiht the federal government.  The Natural Resource Conservation Service offered to pay 75% of the costs.  Each property owner impacted would have been billed $80,000.

    Assembly member Maria Gladziszewski said she felt bad for the residents who worked hard to make this happen.  She said some neighbors really wanted to do it.  "Some residents were violently opposed and they declared they would do everything in their power to make sure it didn't happen."

    A survey found nine property owners in favor, nine opposed, and eight that didn't comment.

    "Hopefully the residents go back, think about it, and if more happens, maybe they will come back.  Some are looking at erosion right in front of their house.  Its a difficult, difficult issue," she added.

    Assembly Norton Gregory said this would create an unfair situation for certain residents.  He was also concerned that the CBJ put up a large amount of money for damage in this neighborhood and don't have a disaster plan in place should other areas receive damage from a natural disaster. 

    CBJ manager Rorie Watt said the NRCS advised the CBJ in writing that they were unwilling to extend the project funding deadline and have removed the funding from the national wait list.

    Assembly member Robert Edwardson said this problem was inevitable because the young river is going to cause erosion and the erosion is not predictable.

    "It is going to happen.  It is so predictable it was written on the plat and survey notes long ago."

    Assembly member Jesse Kiehl said it is not a proposal to armor every river bank in Juneau.  He recalled a speech given by an engineer one time and the importance of infrastructure, "You can't have great cities if they are crumbling.  We can't have a great city if we just allow the river to carve away our largest residential area."

    The Mayor said no one felt good about the decision, "It was a very difficult decision I think we weighed the interest of CBJ taxpayers and a group that has a very difficult problem."


    Comment from Assembly member Maria Gladziszewski

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