When you ask people why they live in Juneau they may answer mountains, water or natural beauty, but most will say — or add — the people and the community.
Juneau has proven time and time again that we are indeed a community, and have come together more often than not. When the avalanche wiped out the power lines the people of Juneau united together, and brought our energy consumption down so far and so fast we have been the subject of many studies because of our success. During COVID-19 we chose to keep safe as a community. We chose to wash our hands and respect people’s personal space by standing away from each other. We gave to charities, to businesses and to each other to help us all get through. And just recently with the Mendenhall flood we banded together to help. As a community we all did our part. As an Assembly we passed an emergency declaration to trigger state funds (and our governor responded quickly). As CBJ we helped keep people safe and waived permits to allow people to keep their property safe. As neighbors we took people in, we helped clean up debris, we helped return lost items — including the cat — to their owners. As contractors we hauled rock and stabilized banks well into the night seven days a week. We all did our part as a community for the community.
As a community what does a new municipal building mean to the people of Juneau collectively? Answer: a new building that is not flashy, but will be an asset to the community. The Assembly may have not come here in the correct manner and the blame needs to fall on all of us, not just Mr. Bryson. Nevertheless, for just a moment, imagine with me.
Imagine that we, our friends and neighbors, walk into a welcome reception area and in one place we can pay bills, get permits, discuss plans, and meet with city employees. Imagine our visitors whether they are tourists or conducting business enter into a building that is not a confusing rabbit warren, more hallway than actual workspace, but instead an easy place to conduct business. Imagine a municipal building that is built to be energy efficient, making tracking energy consumption easy. Imagine a building with comfortable meeting spaces where the public can interact with the Assembly, boards and commissions with technology that actually works with good sound quality, and not any feedback or echoes. Imagine a building that helps bring the city together to be a better, more effective and more efficient part of this community we all live in. Imagine a community that has a municipal building we can all look at with pride and say that’s OUR City Hall.
Please join me in supporting a new City Hall not for the Assembly or for Mr. Watt, as we will all be gone by the time this building is built, but for all of us as a community and for our generations to come.
• Beth Weldon is the mayor of Juneau.