Downtown residents and business owners are getting back the opportunity to have a collective voice on issues that matter to them.
A group of people are revitalizing the Downtown Juneau Neighborhood Association with a kickoff family potluck party starting at 5:30 p.m. today at the Juneau Arts & Culture Center. There will be children's activities and a local candidate and Proposition 2 forum at 7 p.m.
Aurah Landau, a member of the association, said it's been around for decades, but not so much lately. She said it has historically been focused on tourism issues.
"We're seeking a new shape in a different direction," she said. "Basically we're just trying to find ways to help each other and make the community a good place to live."
Landau said those who live or own businesses downtown have been sent surveys about what people want to see the association do. People are encouraged to share what matters to them in their neighborhoods - likes, dislikes, concerns. Some just want to be more informed when a city project comes into the neighborhood.
Landau said some 12th Street residents felt they weren't informed enough when a road project went through, and 11th Street residents were concerned with the increased traffic and safety due to 12th Street being closed. Issues like that could be vetted through the association and brought as a collective - or even individual - voice to the City Assembly.
Landau said there isn't one key person in the group of 34, it's more of a collective of people who offer different skill sets and interests.
Other things the association could be involved with aside from downtown projects are community building, neighborhood advocacy, getting help to neighbors in need, getting to know neighbors and more.
Landau said downtown represents about 4,000 registered voters and more than 2,000 homes from South Franklin Street to beyond the breakwater.
"From what I've seen, people care about safety, walkability, sense of community, quality of schools, the character - look and feel, proximity to amenities and trails," she said. "When we know what is valuable - why people choose to live here - we can know how to enhance that and protect it."
Amy Volz, another association member, considers downtown a special place.
"I choose to live and work here and the associatiaon, with its goal to enhance downtown as a great place to live and work, is something I want to be for. Downtown is different than anywhere else in Juneau."
Volz sees the value in revitalizing the organization to make downtown an even better place to live and work.
The association will meet from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. the third Wednesday each month at Northern Lights Church.
"Kids are welcome," Volz said. "It's not just a grown-up thing."
It also has a Google Groups page at http://bit.ly/d0HFGC. Landau said a Facebook page will be up soon as well.
Contact Sarah Day at 523-2279 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.