Month: May 2018

June 4th Focus Sessions

Downtown Public Library
Large Meeting Room
Monday, June 4th, 2018
1:00pm to 5:00pm

To gain some additional information, we are having four specific focus group meetings the afternoon of June 4th, in the Downtown Public Library in the large meeting room. These will begin at 1:00, with specific times listed below for each session. Everyone is invited to attend the session(s) of their interest. Each session will have specific content, so please review the goals for the sessions.

Commercial Vehicle Access (1:00 to 1:50)
a. Goal: The desired outcome is to understand how best to facilitate convenient and quick loading and unloading of permitted commercial vehicles.
b. Discussion: Range of vehicle types and vehicle needs for passenger drop-off, pick-up, and parking. This will include design needs for disabled access, vehicle capacities, vehicle lengths, turning radii, future vehicles that may be used, and other data specific to site design.
c. Key attendees: Commercial Transport Permit Holders, others who are interested

Boat Transportation on the lake (2:00 to 2:50)
a. Goal: The desired outcome is provide information on research to date, to better understand ideas for how this might be implemented, and to understand concerns about the concept.
b. Discussion: Presentation of initial system assumptions and ideas, with discussion.
c. Key attendees: Potential System Operators, others who are interested

Glacier Side Development (3:00 to 3:50)
a. Goal: The desired outcome is to provide information on planning to date, and to discuss the possible development of recreation and visitor facilities closer to the glacier face.
b. Discussion: Presentation of initial information, with discussion
c. Key attendees: those who are interested

Sustainability (4:00 to 4:50)
a. Goal: The desired outcome is to provide information on research to date, and to discuss other opportunities. It will also include topics such as sustainable building design, sustainable energy sources, alternative propulsion systems for transport vehicles, a circulator transportation system, etc.
b. Discussion: Presentation of initial assumptions/ideas, with discussion.
c. Key attendees: Stakeholders with a sustainability mandate, others who are interested
d. Note: This session is scheduled last to allow additional discussion if the group wishes to continue.

Focus Area Plans

Below are the six focus area plans that were presented at the April 26th open house. A brief narrative of each is also provided. One of the  focus areas (#5 Visitor Center Campus) was not developed as a plan but was developed as programming of facilities and is also shown below.

1. Trailhead Parking

Proposed development of three new trailheads along Glacier Spur Road to remove social parking along road and provide the desired trailhead facilities. New trailheads are being proposed for Dredge Lake Loop, Crystal Lake, and Trail of Time. These plans were generated in response to what we heard during the numerous public meetings and include:

• Provide improved trailhead facilities for Dredge Lakes Unit trails
• Provide trailheads and parking off Glacier Spur Road for Crystal Lake, East Glacier, Powerline trail and others
• Provide more non-motorized routes to and through MGVC and MGRA

2. Remote Visitor Center at Glacier Base: Docks

Proposed accessible floating docks to the west of the Visitor Center, to the west of the glacier face (near the land access point from the lake to accessing the former ice caves), and to the south of the public kayak/raft ramp near Skater’s Cabin. The proposed floating docks could be used by electric boats (50 or less passenger) that would provide boat access from the Visitor Center to a proposed visitor facility at the glacier (see next focus area). The proposed facility near the Visitor Center would include a terminal building and linked to the Visitor Center with an accessible trail. Construction of the docks will require lake access by equipment and the proposed construction of a boat launch and temporary bulkhead that could be removed once the docks are built (second sheet). With removal of the bulkhead, a proposed accessible floating dock could be constructed in its place. If desired in the future, smaller docks could also be developed near Nugget Falls and along the south shoreline of Mendenhall Lake (second sheet). These plans were generated in response to what we heard during the numerous public meetings and include:

• Expand facilities and new opportunities for dispersing visitors and increasing carry capacity;
• Improve inter-connectivity of facilities;
• Provide boat access to satellite Visitor Center on Rocky Point.

2. Remote Visitor Center at Glacier Base: Glacier Visitor Facility

From the proposed glacier dock, a 10 foot wide accessible trail would link to a new proposed glacier visitor facility near the site of the former ice caves. The facility would be a heated all-seasons modular facility approximately 1,200 square feet that could be moved to ‘chase the ice’. Amenities could include compost toilets, interpretation, storage, and allow guides to operate from the facility. The facility would include a spur trail to the face of the glacier that could be extended as the glacier recedes. A loop trail from the facility to a scenic glacier overlook and shelter would provide additional recreation opportunities. A wilderness trail could  be developed to a higher elevation site that could include a shelter and as the glacier recedes could be a new site for a new glacier facility. At the dock, a proposed comfort station would include compost toilets and shelter. These plans were generated in response to what we heard during the numerous public meetings and include:

• Expand facilities and new opportunities for dispersing visitors and increasing carry capacity;
• Allow people to ‘touch the ice’;
• Keep new visitor center down low near glacier, provide access to reach vantage point;
• Expand facilities and new opportunities for dispersing visitors and increasing carry capacity;
• Provide safe and obvious access to the ice caves/glacier;
• More restrooms;
• Provide improved winter recreation opportunities;
• Improve self-guided tour of MGVC, make facilities and trail links more intuitive.

3. Steep Creek Relocation and Boardwalk

Restoration of the middle portion of the creek (low spawning habitat) is proposed to move the creek from the edge of Glacier Spur Road and replace the two culverts under the road with a bridge to create a wildlife underpass and eliminate the perched culverts. The existing elevated Steep Creek trail is proposed to be extended to the south following the new creek alignment to the new Glacier Spur Road bridge and pass under the road and link to the existing Trail of Time as an elevated trail. This would create a looped interpretive trail back to the visitor center.  Observation platforms are proposed along the length of the elevated trail with a larger underwater fish viewing facility south of parking lot #2. A new proposed elevated loop trail would extend from the north segment of the existing Steep Creek trail around the beaver ponds near the mouth of the creek. At-grade social trails that link to the Steep Creek elevated trail would be decommissioned to reduce people and bear conflicts. These plans were generated in response to what we heard during the numerous public meetings and include:

• As glacier recedes, focus more on wildlife, bears, fish, birds, etc. as the experience;
• Reduce congestion of Steep Creek elevated trail during bear/fish season;
• Improve self-guided tour of MGVC, make facilities and trail links more intuitive (better signs to let guests have optimal experience);
• Expand facilities and new opportunities for dispersing visitors and increasing carry capacity;
• Improve capacity of Nugget Falls, Steep Creek, and Photo Point Trails. Loop trails were possible;
• Encourage local usage, even during the busy tourist periods;
• Improve salmon habitat in Steep Creek;
• More wildlife viewing opportunities;
• Restore Steep Creek and create wildlife underpass under Glacier Spur Road;
• Extend elevated Steep Creek trail to beaver ponds and along mouth of creek at lake;
• Fix perched culverts along Glacier Spur Road;
• Provide routes for wildlife that are separated from human traffic.

4. Lakefront Trail to Skater’s Cabin

A proposed multi-modal, non-motorized trail would link the Visitor Center to the Mendenhall campground and Skater’s Cabin. The 12-14 foot wide trail would start near the gravel bus lot and link to the existing separated path along Glacier Spur Road. The trail would bypass the visitor center campus to the west of Steep Creek and then follow the south shore of the lake. A majority of the proposed trail would be elevated (similar to Steep Creek Trail) to allow for flooding and reduce people and wildlife conflicts. A proposed bridge would cross Mendenhall River near the historic location of the old bridge and link into the campground trail system. The trail would then connect to the Skater’s Cabin Road separated trail and to the West Glacier trailhead. The proposed Lakesfront Trail would be designed to allow nordic skiing and grooming in the winter. These plans were generated in response to what we heard during the numerous public meetings and include:

• Expand facilities and new opportunities for dispersing visitors and increasing carry capacity;
• Link MGVC to West Glacier Unit and campground to improve access;
• Improve inter-connectivity of facilities;
• Connect new cross-country ski trails to existing transportation;
• Access to longer/safer hikes/experiences;
• Reduce shoreline/lake erosion due to foot traffic;
• Provide more non-motorized routes to and through MGVC and MGRA;
• No impacts to existing Dredge Lakes trail network by permitted users;
• Provide routes for wildlife that are separated from human traffic.

5. Visitor Center Campus

This focus area was developed as a programming element and not developed as a site plan. The plan will be generated in response to the environmental analysis and with additional direction. Programming for this focus area includes:

  • Existing Visitor Center:  The existing visitor center is a valuable resource and will be prioritized for re-use that optimizes its visitor benefit as theater, observation area, interpretation exhibits, and ranger talks. Expand theater, interpretation and restrooms. Move retail to another location to provide additional capacity within the building.
  • Welcome Center: A new structure will be built to accommodate retail, food service and restrooms. (Potentially at or near existing pavilion/parking lot #1). Retail and food service should be located close to each other as they are likely something that would be run by a concession. Programming to include in the Welcome Center:
    • Orientation Area
    • Restrooms
    • Retail Space (include space for on-site sales of activities)
    • Food Service Space – Hot drink and warm sandwich
  • Plaza with staging/rest areas
  • Directional, interpretive and orientation signage
  • Covered areas for resting, staging and learning
  • Expand Photo Point Trail to become a loop trail
  • Develop accessible lake edge trail from Photo Point trail to Steep Creek trail and dock to link facilities and reduce shoreline impacts

The programming was generated in response to what we heard during the numerous public meetings and include:

• Expand facilities and new opportunities for dispersing visitors and increasing carry capacity;
• More restrooms;
• Reduce visitor center and theater congestion;
• Increase capacity for residents and visitors while making it feel less crowded;
• Improve inter-connectivity of facilities;
• Enhance winter access and winter recreation opportunities;
• Provide year round coffee shop/pie shop;
• Provide more interpretation;
• Respect local recreational use of area year-round;
• Protect nesting shorebirds along lake;
• Reduce shoreline/lake erosion due to foot traffic;
• Improve capacity of Nugget Falls, Steep Creek, and Photo Point Trails. Loop trails.

 

6. Parking and Transfer at the MGVC Unit

This focus area has two options. One that proposes a circulator (wheeled tram) to move cruise ship passengers from  a remote parking area on the edge of the site to the visitor center campus; and another option that proposes continued use to allow commercial vehicles/motor coaches direct access to the visitor center campus with improvements for drop-off and pick-up.

The programming was generated in response to what we heard during the numerous public meetings and include:

• Reduce congestion at bus loading and lot 1 area and better organize;
• Relocate motor coaches away from lot 1 and contact station to reduce congestion and create improved pedestrian zone;
• Off-site/edge of MGRA transit center with circulator to the area;
• Provide more non-motorized routes to and through MGVC and MGRA;
• Separate cruise ship transport loading/unloading from private vehicle and non-motorized access.

Circulator and Public Parking at Visitor Center Campus Option:

Programming includes a proposes remote coach/commercial vehicle parking lot  just within the MGRA near the entrance to the MGVC (near Gladstone Avenue). The proposed facility would include:

  • Coach parking for 50-60 buses
  • Coach drop off for 5 buses
  • Coach pick up for 12 buses
  • Circulator terminal including covered waiting

The proposed circulator could be a variety of wheeled tram vehicles but should not be another motor coach. The tram needs to be part of the MGVC experience. A terminal at the visitor center campus would include a circulator terminal including covered waiting. A dedicated travel lane for the tram would parallel Glacier Spur Road while maintaining the existing roadway for public use. Public parking would be provided near the visitor center.

Motor Coach and Public Parking at Visitor Center Campus Option:

This option proposes continued direct access by motor coaches/commercial vehicles to the visitor center campus. Improved and dedicated drop-off and pick-up stalls for commercial vehicles would improve the experience, reduce congestion and reduce loading and unloading times on site. Motor coach staging would continue at the existing gravel parking lot. The public would continue to have direct access to the visitor center campus. Proposed programming includes the following parking and drop-off facilities at the visitor center campus:

  • Coach drop-off for 8 buses
  • Coach pick-up for 15 buses
  • Covered waiting facility
  • Public parking for 60-90 vehicles