Save local shops and Mechants Wharf

Letter to the editor

Posted: Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Dee Longenbaugh's recent letter in the paper (Empire, May 8) broke my heart. She owns The Observatory archival bookstore on Second Street, so she knows first-hand about the problems of the businesses on Seward Street.

I loved that Tibetan store that was forced to close by the street construction, Friendly Planet Trading Co. Couldn't our city delve into its tourist tax money to bail out this company temporarily? It's really important for the health of Juneau that our own local small businesses not have the deck stacked against them.

There are so many fewer fun local shops here than there used to be 10 years ago. The ones that are left, like the wonderful House of Russia in my South Franklin neighborhood, have so many problems that continued existence is always difficult. Because there are so few local shops left on the south half of South Franklin, local people have mostly stopped coming. This means that the shops cannot stay open all year, though they would like to, which makes South Franklin a ghost land in the winter.

As to the Seward Street problems caused by the lack of tourist traffic now, could our city not please take some of the tourist tax and build another log cabin? Why not? For the tourists, it is much more fun to walk to a log cabin along a cute, historic street with little Juneau shops than to walk along a highway to Centennial Hall. Please, give these businesses some help.

Longenbaugh's distress over the threatened destruction of Merchants Wharf is felt by so many Juneauites that it should under no circumstances happen. It is worth it to the city to preserve it no matter what the cost. It is our history, our beauty, the joy of our community. The walk outside it is the most fun part of the walk along the channel. The delight of the wooden floor inside and the attractive atmosphere cannot be recreated with a new building.

And what of the businesses in Merchants Wharf? Where would they go? People love them. And the eating establishments serve a need not only for us, but for the tourists. Many tourists comment that it is hard to find a place to eat. And what about that large meeting room that serves the community? Please, save Merchants Wharf.

Page Bridges


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