It’s been an eventful year on many levels. Regardless of what was happening nationally or even statewide, local government kept on going without skipping a beat. These are the top ten ways CBJ made an impact in 2017:
1. Project Playground – There are few things in Juneau that bring the entire community together. Project Playground burning down on April 24 was one of them. Thanks to Capital City Fire/Rescue, the fire was put out quickly with no injuries, though the playground was a total loss. In response, the community rallied like it did 10 years ago when the playground was first created, and community remains an important component of the rebuild process. The playground is expected to be operational in late summer/early fall.
2. Aquileans – Many residents were leery of the 1% for Art project attached to the new cruise ship berth. But when Aquileans – a series of 10 sculptures installed along the downtown Seawalk – lit up at the end of September, people warmed up to the public art, and have even started to – daresay – like it.
3. Seawalk – In May, the city slowly unveiled portions of the new Seawalk that extend from W 8th Street to Gold Creek. Community members complimented the access to the water. They also poked fun at the apocalyptic nature of the habitat island with its dead trees. Then Oprah happened. During her July visit, she visited Seawalk and posted a video on Instagram – which has almost 800,000 views! – of a bald eagle perched on one of those dead trees (which is exactly its purpose).
4. Housing and Homelessness – The Juneau Housing First Collaborative construction project, which CBJ contributed to, opened in September. Thirty-two of Juneau’s most vulnerable residents were selected to occupy Forget Me Not Manor and have a place to call home. JAMHI’s onsite health clinic recently opened. With health services and support resources, residents are creating stability in their lives. CBJ has also opened a cold weather emergency shelter and is also working with social service providers to run it.
5. Downtown Improvements – Downtown Juneau saw Phase 1 of street and sidewalk improvements, a project that will continue into next spring. With new sidewalks, roadway and lighting, pedestrians and drivers have enjoyed the visible downtown changes. The next phase of improvements, which includes Front Street, will start in February/March.
6. Pederson Hill – CBJ has worked to open up land in the Pederson Hill area for a new housing development in the Mendenhall Valley. Initial construction of access roads and other infrastructure will occur as weather allows with the rest of construction happening in two additional phases.
7. Juneau Police Department’s Year of Kindness – JPD gained national attention for its creative 2017 Year of Kindness initiative. All 52 weeks of the year were adopted by various citizen groups for kindness surges and special events. Join JPD, friends and neighbors at Thunder Mountain High School on Dec. 31, 1-5 p.m. for the end of the year kindness celebration.
8. Budget – The CBJ Assembly and staff continue to provide Juneau citizens with a balanced and sustainable budget. CBJ staff engaged the community though education sessions, focus groups and weekly online budget updates.
9. West Douglas Pioneer Road – It’s a modest start, but the road extension off North Douglas Highway leads to some of the easiest lands to develop in the borough. In 50 years, who knows what will be accomplished due to that road.
10. Auke Bay Marine Station – CBJ and the University of Alaska Southeast jointly acquired prime waterfront property from the federal government … for free!
Of course, there are the countless other ways CBJ and its employees positively impact the daily lives of Juneau residents that never make the news or a Top Ten list. With that said, CBJ is always striving to do better and has a new batch of priorities and goals to work on next year. Here’s to 2018, looking ahead and planning for the future.
(This is written by the City Manager’s office and originally appeared in the December 15, 2017 Juneau Empire in a segment called, “City Corner”).