Between 1887 and 1997, a school occupied a portion of the land now known as Capital School Park. (Undated photo courtesy of the Juneau-Douglas City Museum)

Between 1887 and 1997, a school occupied a portion of the land now known as Capital School Park. (Undated photo courtesy of the Juneau-Douglas City Museum)

A new life is in store for Capital School Park

Public input is helping craft a vision for the park’s voter-approved facelift.

Thanks to the bond sale passed by Juneau voters in 2020, Capital School Park will soon be getting an overhaul, with construction scheduled to start this summer, park officials said.

[Assembly sends $15 million bond package to voters]

A crumbling retaining wall near the rear of the park is one of the driving forces behind the redesign. While repair costs to that section will dictate how extensively the park can be remodeled, an online planning meeting Tuesday night gave park developers and community members a chance to share feedback and swap ideas about the park’s evolution.

“A lot of the work is going to start with repairing or replacing the existing retaining wall. That will address the drainage concerns and standing water on the basketball courts,” said Michael Eich, engineering project manager for the City and Borough of Juneau.

The historic park, which is located at Fifth and Seward Street, is designated as a neighborhood park. But Michele Elfers, deputy director of parks and recreation for CBJ, said it’s proximity to the Capitol Building, state offices and the waterfront make it a popular spot for office workers and tourists. A school was on the site from 1887 to 1997, which is the origin of the park’s name.

“While it’s similar to Rotary Park in the valley, there are things that make it a little different from other parks,” Elfer said at the meeting.

She said the city received hundreds of responses to recent surveys about the park and the community’s desires for future improvements.

Creating a wish list

On Tuesday night, Alaska-based landscape architect Monique Anderson of Anderson Land Planning showed design options for a reconstructed park and polled the Zoom audience about possible park features. Top wish-list items included outdoor fitness equipment and a community garden space.

[Maybe it’s raining at sea level, but Eaglecrest is chillin’]

Based on participation in the meeting and survey results, a strong preference exists for new playground equipment with a more artistic flair and preservation of existing features, such as the sledding hill and important cultural features, including the Empty Chair memorial, totem poles and dedication trees.

With the public planning process under way, MRV Architects will update the plan based on feedback and prepare bid-ready drawings. Once the funds are officially approved, bids should be out in May, with construction to follow this summer, Eich said.

Contact Dana Zigmund at dana.zigmund@juneauempire.com or 9017-308-4891.

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