Some promoters of a new City Hall claim our current city buildings do “…not represent the high standard and image a capital city should project,” and “A new City Hall helps Juneau maintain its status as Alaska’s capital city.”
Juneau’s statewide image does not hinge on our municipal buildings. But if “image” and “status” are key to keeping the capital from creeping away, perhaps some self-awareness is in order.
If you ask a legislator, staffer, or frequent visitor to Juneau what annoys them most when they come to the capital city, you’ll hear about the very same issues that our own residents cite. Finding reasonably priced housing always tops the list. Parking and panhandling might also be mentioned. The stench from the landfill comes up sometimes.
Juneau’s municipal buildings are indeed modest, but their current condition is the result of neglect, specifically the failure of our city to fund regular maintenance.
Yet the Assembly has chosen to fund nearly $1 million to renovate and equip a warehouse for a vote-by-mail system that no one asked for, another $2 million toward a new “Capital Civic Center,” and the list goes on.
The best way to keep the capital in Juneau is to be respectful and hospitable toward everyone who comes for legislative session regardless of their politics, provide affordable housing, keep our downtown safe and tidy, and be responsive to problems when they arise.
Let’s get our priorities in order before we authorize a new City Hall.