Ignoring the tragedy on Seward Street

Posted: Wednesday, January 13, 2010

It broke my heart to read the story in Monday's Empire about the break-in at Art Sutch's photography and digital imaging business on Seward Street. Why in the world is this kind of criminal activity taking place on an historical street, in an historical building in our state capital? Someone (and it's not the owner) is not paying attention.

If it hasn't already happened by the time this letter is published, I think our mayor, the Juneau Assembly and legislative representatives should hold an emergency meeting to discuss the tragedy and come up with serious possible solutions.

As Sutch accurately pointed out, the problem is not just what happened to him, it's what's happening throughout downtown Juneau.

"Our whole sense of community is going down the drain," he said.

He's right. Before we know it, if we don't do something about it, there will be no more downtown at all. Only Disneyland will exist - that part of town located within a few feet of where the cruise ships dock.

When I was a child growing up in Juneau, we loved to go downtown. We would visit with friends, peek into dress shop windows, stop by the record shop to listen to music, run into Sully's Bakery for a doughnut or to Garnick's Grocery for an ice cream cone. We might even venture into Trevor Davis's Snap Shoppe to pick up film or photographs even though Trevor Davis was often grouchy. Art Sutch's photo business is located in Davis's old shop, by the way. It's a wonderful coincidence, but now Sutch's business is suffering, and the shop is physically busted.

Sutch says he came to Juneau from New Jersey to get away from crime. Now crime has come to him, and through him, directly to us.

If we don't care enough to push our elected officials to do something about it, I suggest a few of us take to the streets and protest. We'd make national news but maybe that might encourage the powers that be to snap out of a dreadful and unforgivable case of amnesia.

Juneau is going away. It's receding just like the Mendenhall Glacier. We sit and watch television or spend half the year Outside. We don't care enough about what we once knew as community. Shame on us and shame on those we elected to office. We should all go stand in a corner.

Art Sutch is a really nice man and he has a lovely family. More than the faltering economy, we're the real reason for this Seward Street tragedy.

Virginia Whitehead Breeze


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