Ben Hohenstatt | Juneau Empire                                 Kevin Ritchie adds a comment to a map at a kickoff meeting for City and Borough of Juneau’s effort to create South Douglas-West Juneau Area Plan on Wednesday.

Ben Hohenstatt | Juneau Empire Kevin Ritchie adds a comment to a map at a kickoff meeting for City and Borough of Juneau’s effort to create South Douglas-West Juneau Area Plan on Wednesday.

Douglas residents share vision for community’s future

Planning efort starts off with well-attended open house

Howling winds and plummeting temperatures couldn’t keep people with opinions about the future of Douglas away from an open house meeting Wednesday.

A conservative headcount put attendance at 50 for a meeting meant to kickoff City and Borough of Juneau’s efforts to create a South Douglas-West Juneau area plan. After completion, which is likely about two years off, the area plan will be a 20-year vision for the area from the Douglas Bridge to St. Ann’s Avenue.

“I like Douglas,” said resident Carole Bookless. “When it’s wintertime and dark, I can walk right down the middle of the street. People know their neighbors. It’s very safe.”

Residents were encouraged to write down 10- and 20-year visions for the neighborhood on sticky notes. They could also attach color-coded notes to maps of the area to identify successes, challenges and opportunities within the neighborhood.

Residents shared their 10-year visions for Douglas at a kickoff meeting for City and Borough of Juneau’s effort to create South Douglas-West Juneau Area Plan, Wednesday, Jan. 15. (Ben Hohenstatt | Juneau Empire)

Residents shared their 10-year visions for Douglas at a kickoff meeting for City and Borough of Juneau’s effort to create South Douglas-West Juneau Area Plan, Wednesday, Jan. 15. (Ben Hohenstatt | Juneau Empire)

Many of the comments said they want south Douglas and west Juneau to be a vibrant community, maintain its small-town feel and preserve easily accessible recreation opportunities.

Bookless said she’d like to see bike lanes added to the area so she can commute on an electric bike.

Resident and former City Manager Kevin Ritchie said he’d discourage high-density housing developments in the area because in his opinion Douglas Highway is near its traffic capacity.

Multiple notes on maps of the neighborhood spotlighted the Cordova Street and Douglas Highway intersection as something they’d like to see improved.

“Intersection is dangerous for pedestrians, cars, school, kids, etc.,” read the note.

Residents posted perceived challenges, successes and opportunities in South Douglas and West Juneau at a kickoff meeting for City and Borough of Juneau’s effort to create South Douglas-West Juneau Area Plan, Wednesday, Jan. 15. (Ben Hohenstatt | Juneau Empire)

Residents posted perceived challenges, successes and opportunities in South Douglas and West Juneau at a kickoff meeting for City and Borough of Juneau’s effort to create South Douglas-West Juneau Area Plan, Wednesday, Jan. 15. (Ben Hohenstatt | Juneau Empire)

Ritchie said he’d like to see more attention paid to keeping the area safe and clean. He also sees untapped potential in South Douglas.

“On Sandy Beach, I said in terms of opportunities, it’s an incredible historical and recreational opportunity,” Ritchie said.

He wasn’t the only one to mention the potential appeal of Douglas’ history. Multiple sticky notes, and resident Annetta Love also mentioned it.

Love said she mostly wanted to highlight one of the community’s successes.

“The biggest accomplishment is Perseverance Theatre,” Love said. “That is very unique.”

Feedback from residents will be analyzed by planners and archived, said Jill Maclean, CBJ director of community development.

“It’s a way to ensure that CBJ understands what the community wants for the neighborhood,” Maclean said.

Residents shared their 20-year visions for Douglas at a kickoff meeting for City and Borough of Juneau’s effort to create South Douglas-West Juneau Area Plan, Wednesday, Jan. 15. (Ben Hohenstatt | Juneau Empire)

Residents shared their 20-year visions for Douglas at a kickoff meeting for City and Borough of Juneau’s effort to create South Douglas-West Juneau Area Plan, Wednesday, Jan. 15. (Ben Hohenstatt | Juneau Empire)

Additional public meetings will also help shed a light on that.

Six additional meetings are scheduled for March and April, and each meeting will focus on a facet of the community. Topics include economic and business vitality, housing, arts, culture and historic context, transportation and infrastructure, recreation and natural resources and land use and zoning.

Before those meetings happen, Maclean said CBJ’s Planning Commission will need to appoint a steering committee and applications are still being accepted for a committee that will need at least nine members. Applications will be available online through the area plan’s website, beta.juneau.org/community-development/douglas-west-juneau. They can be emailed to project managers Allison Eddins at allison.eddins@juneau.org and Tim Felstead at tim.felstead@juneau.org.

The deadline to apply is Feb.7, and appointments are expected to be made Feb. 25, Maclean said.

• Contact reporter Ben Hohenstatt at (907)523-2243 or bhohenstatt@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at @BenHohenstatt.

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