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Assembly receives $1M from library 'friends'

Members also take up appeal on Landscape Alaska

Posted: March 18, 2014 - 12:02am
Representatives from Friends of the Juneau Public Libraries present the City and Borough of Juneau Assembly with the second installment of a $1 million donation at the assembly's Monday meeting. The donation will go toward building the new Mendenhall Valley Public Library.   KATIE MORITZ | JUNEAU EMPIRE
KATIE MORITZ | JUNEAU EMPIRE
Representatives from Friends of the Juneau Public Libraries present the City and Borough of Juneau Assembly with the second installment of a $1 million donation at the assembly's Monday meeting. The donation will go toward building the new Mendenhall Valley Public Library.

Amid a slew of ordinance approvals and introductions, the City and Borough of Juneau Assembly got to have a little fun, accepting a big — in every sense of the word — check from the Friends of the Juneau Public Libraries.

At its Monday meeting, the Assembly received the last installment of a $1 million donation from the group to help pay for the new Mendenhall Valley Public Library in Dimond Park.

“This is so much fun, to give away a million dollars,” Friends of the Library board President Paul Beran said before presenting the oversized check. “Can you imagine how many books at a nickel, a dime, a quarter and a dollar it takes?”

He said the group made the donation possible by staffing its Amazing Bookstore with 70 volunteers per week, some of which have been working in the store for 30 years.

The donation is part of a local match for the $7 million state grant the city received for the project, City Manager Kim Kiefer said in her manager’s report.

The Assembly also decided to take up an appeal by neighbors of Landscape Alaska’s new location in a Valley residential neighborhood.

Although the land is appropriately zoned for the commercial greenhouse, opponents say the business will detract from the strictly residential area, and pose a safety problem with cars driving up and down a steep, private street to get to the business.

The Planning Commission approved the greenhouse company’s conditional use permit to operate in the neighborhood at its Feb. 11 meeting, after months of back and forth with the business owners. Landscape Alaska has operated in Juneau for more than 30 years in various locations.

Neighborhood resident G Ole Olson said she didn’t feel the commission heard the arguments of the neighbors. That’s why she and others submitted the appeal.

“We don’t believe we had a fair and just hearing at the Planning Commission,” she said after the Assembly decided to hear the appeal. “I believe they didn’t look at all our stuff we submitted and they didn’t take those into consideration.”

Also at the meeting, the assembly approved the rezone of the Auke Bay Post Office property, which was first presented at a neighborhood meeting in October 2013. The Planning Commission approved the rezone at its Jan. 14 meeting.

Myron Klein, who has owned the post office property since 1984, wants to convert about 4,000 square feet of empty space on the first floor, vacated by the post office when it downsized last year, into seven apartments, according to a past Empire report. The second level of the building is already made up of apartments. There are also two pre-existing apartments on the first floor. Klein pursued a rezone of the waterfront commercial property to general commercial, which allows for more dwelling units per acre.

The Assembly approved all action items on its agenda with little discussion.

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