Downtown Juneau’s South Seward Street will be renamed Heritage Way before the start of winter after the City and Borough of Juneau Planning Commission unanimously OK’d the change Tuesday evening.
“We’re heading in the right direction — this is a good day for Juneau,” said planning commission member Mandy Cole.
In late April Sealaska Heritage Institute President Rosita Worl announced during a public ceremony the institute intended to change the street’s name to Heritage Way and soon after submitted an application to the city.
The city is the only other property owner that resides along the road and would be affected by the name change, and only two blocks of South Seward Street between Front Street and Marine Way would be affected.
The new name will become effective Nov. 1, 2023, to avoid confusion during the municipal election in October as City Hall resides on the street. The Assembly will not vote on the change, as it is the commission’s authority to approve street name changes through code, according to CBJ Community Development Department Director Jill Maclean.
In late May the Assembly Committee of the Whole unanimously passed a motion in support of the change.
Worl, who attended the meeting Tuesday night, said the change will further the mission to grow Juneau as the Northwest arts capital of the world and thanked the city for its collaboration.
“I think it’s wonderful,” she told the Empire after its passing. “I am just so proud of Juneau for really celebrating its diversity and all of its cultural resources — and I just couldn’t be more happy to see the name change.”
Despite the support from the commission members, the city did receive a few public comments against the change.
Sheryll Cox, a Juneau resident, in a written public comment (corrected for minor grammar and spelling) stated she opposes the renaming and asked the city to “stop renaming everything to appease the Native Alaskans.”
“The street and its name belong to all people, past and present who live here. Not just the Native people. Seward Street has a history that should be preserved,” she wrote. “The city has been renaming everything to Native names, why? 64.7% of people who live here are white, and only 10% are Native. And the rest is a mix of many races who also call Juneau home.”
Before the vote, Cole asked if SHI considered a Tlingit name. Worl said yes, but “we thought Heritage Way would be the best way for it, but we do like the idea of Tlingit names.”
“This is exciting to see and it’s encouraging,” said planning commission member Mathew Bell. “I know Sealaska works a great deal to encompass the community as a whole, and this is exciting.”
• Contact reporter Clarise Larson at firstname.lastname@example.org or (651)-528-1807.