Norwegian Redirects $2 Million Donation To Juneau Community Foundation

Norwegian Cruise Line will reportedly be redirecting its $2 million donation to the Juneau Community Foundation after the City and Borough of Juneau Assembly turned it down in fear of “losing public trust.”

According to city manager Rorie Watt, the cruise line was understanding in such a decision.

“I did talk to Norwegian Cruise Lines and I advised them of the assembly discussion and debate, and their reaction was that that’s just fine,” Watt said in an interview with News of the North on June 16. “If the assembly’s decision was that the community foundation was better situated, then they were happy to contribute the money to the foundation.”

Earlier, non-profit Juneau-based corporation KTOO reported that the City and Borough of Juneau Assembly had turned down a $2-million donation from Norwegian. Six assembly members voted against taking the donation, while only three voted for during a meeting on June 14.

Some assembly members were “concerned about what the public would think of the city taking the money,” KTOO said.

“I just think that to accept money from NCL, even though it’s totally separate from the decisions we’d be making about this development project just is not a good look for us,” Carole Triem, one of the six assembly members who voted against taking the donation, was quoted as saying by KTOO.

Triem said even though she has faith in everyone involved, “just the appearance of impropriety is enough to lose the public’s trust.”

According to KTOO, Norwegian has earlier purchased an empty waterfront lot downtown, where it wants to build a dock. Triem said that the proposed dock factored heavily in her decision.

Another assembly member, Wade Bryson, reportedly disagreed with Triem’s argument.

“The opposition to the dock is still going to be there,” Bryson was quoted as saying. “The pro-tourism groups are still going to be there. Taking that $2-million changes not one number on either side of that equation.”

Bryson reportedly added that the path for Norwegian getting its dock is already in city code and charted out. 

“Yes, I would agree that we have to make a couple of decisions along the way, but they’re not going to be able to come up with some strategy or technique that’s going to help them circumvent the Juneau process,” Bryson said. “It would be foolish and fiscally irresponsible to reject this money that is going to go, at our decision, to helping our community.”

This comes about a month after Norwegian announced that it would donate a total of $10 million to Alaska port communities. That included Ketchikan, Juneau, Hoonah, Sitka, Skagway and Seward. The funds were “intended to support small businesses and those most impacted by the lack of cruise passengers last year,” KTOO said.

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