The third planning charrette (workshop) was held the evening of Wednesday, November 9th. The intent of this session was two-fold. To gain confirmation that the inventory mapping of the MGRA that was developed from charrettes 1 and 2 input was correct; and to introduce the planning process to the public in the form of a group planning exercise.
Chris Mertl of Corvus Design welcomed roughly 35 participants to the charrette. The use inventory maps were displayed and participants were encouraged to mark up and draw on the maps to provide corrections or update information.
Brad Orr, Juneau District Ranger, provided the introduction to tonight’s charrette. Chris gave a brief status update on the progress of the planning effort. He reiterated that this project is a two year process and that we are currently in the first MGRA phase. Within the current MGRA planning phase we are in the Data Analysis phase (identified by the green arrow).
For the planning exercise we developed a simulation designed to illustrate the planning process and how complex it can be. Currently, the MGRA visitor demand is greater than the existing visitor capacity. The goal for this entire planning effort is to create a good visitor experience where visitor capacity meets visitor demand. This concept drove the development of the group planning exercise. The exercise included three scenarios: meeting current demand, anticipated demand in 10 years and anticipated demand in 25 years. Rough estimates of future demand were created based on growth of the cruise ship industry, independent travelers, and use by local residents, roughly 2% annually.
A map of the MGRA was divided into squares based on a preliminary site analysis. The squares were then categorized into three development types, Prime, Limited, and Restricted. Prime squares would support any sort of development (these squares had minimal environmental concerns), Limited squares excluded high density development (these squares had some environmental concerns), and Restricted squares (these squares had considerable environmental concerns) only allowed trails and roads. These development limitations drove the planning process when different scenarios were introduced. A series of development cubes were used to represent visitor capacity. Based on the scenario provided, participants had to create a good visitor experience by adding visitor capacity (density cubes) to the MGRA board as the visitor demand increased for each scenario without detracting from the overall visitor experience.
High Density (Visitor Center) = Purple
Medium Density (Pavilion, High Use Trail, or similar) = Blue
Bus Parking = Orange
Car Parking = Yellow
Drop-off = Red
Voting Cube = Green
Participants were divided into six groups and each group was allowed to ‘play’ out three initial scenarios, Existing Demand, 10 year Demand, and 25 year Demand. As density cubes were placed on the board participants had to balance them with the needed parking cubes to support the facilities. Drop-off cubes could be placed on the board near any density cube to allow visitors access to that site. If any group member disagreed with the placement of a cube a voting round was initiated with the green voting cube. A majority vote or consensus was needed in order to move on to the next round. Each group recorded their progress after each scenario by answering two questions. “Why did you place your density cubes where you did?” and “Why did you place your parking cubes where you did?” Several additional bonus scenarios were revealed to each group after the first three scenarios were developed. These included hypothetical situations like instituting a shuttle system for the whole recreation area, installing a pie shop, effects of a major outburst flood (jökulhlaup), and finally the disappearance of the glacier from the view of the existing visitor center. Each group addressed these hypothetical scenarios with different solutions and recorded their results.
After all groups ‘played’ through all scenarios their results and findings were reported back to the entire room.
Below are the third scenarios of each group (25 year Projected Demand).
We have included a summarized version in the form of an animated GIF of each scenario. You can compare through the GIF the different approaches each group took as they attempted to balance the need for more visitor capacity as visitor demand increased.
Scenario 1 – Meet Existing Demand
Currently, the MGRA visitor capacity is below the current visitor demand. Groups had to add density cubes and parking cubes to meet current visitor demand.
Scenario 2 – Meet 10 year Projected Demand
It is projected that visitor demand will increase 2% per year so after 10 years each group had to add additional density and parking cubes to meet the projected visitor demand.
Scenario 3 – Meet 25 year Projected Demand
Each group had to add additional density cubes and parking cubes to meet the 25 year projected visitor demand.
Scenario 4 – Glacier Gone
This was the final bonus scenario. We presented the hypothetical situation where the Mendenhall Glacier had completely disappeared from the view of the current visitor center. Each group then had to decide how this would affect the planning process for the MGRA. The groups were also asked if any new trail segments were desired that would improve access or the user experience. New trails are shown as green lines. The following GIF presents each group’s results for comparison.