Someday we’ll fund it: Juneauites plan to install downtown rainbow crosswalk

An unidentified couple pose for the recently painted rainbow crosswalk at the intersection of Seventh and Gold streets in August 2016.

An unidentified couple pose for the recently painted rainbow crosswalk at the intersection of 7th and Gold streets in August 2016. (Photo courtesy Sue Warner)

What began as a debate over public art versus public safety may finally be approaching a resolution.

A group of residents is planning to install a rainbow crosswalk in downtown Juneau — this time with the city’s blessing.

A crosswalk at 7th Street and Gold Street had to be repainted several times in the past few years after unidentified people painted over the white lines with rainbow colors. After another rainbow crosswalk appeared near the entrance of Cope Park in 2018, Juneau’s city manager made a public appeal to the guerilla artists last year to work with the city instead.

Steve SueWing is a member of the committee that formed as a result. He said the goal is to raise $10,000 from the public to install and maintain the crosswalk going forward.

“Ten thousand dollars is for at least three years minimum of installation and upkeep, because it’s something that, because it’s Juneau, is definitely going to have to be painted every year,” SueWing said.

SueWing said once they reach the $3,000 cost of installation, a city contractor can start painting.

Deputy City Manager Mila Cosgrove said the city is happy to have found a solution.

“A small group of people engaged, and we’ve been working with them since that time to kind of talk about the parameters for what that would look like and the location,” Cosgrove said.

A crosswalk on Calhoun Avenue at the entrance to Juneau's Cope Park was painted in rainbow colors early Tuesday, June 19, 2018. By mid-afternoon city crews had repainted the crosswalk white. (Photo by Jacob Resneck/KTOO)

A crosswalk on Calhoun Avenue at the entrance to Juneau’s Cope Park was painted in rainbow colors early Tuesday, June 19, 2018. By mid-afternoon, city crews had repainted the crosswalk white. (Photo by Jacob Resneck/KTOO)

The rainbow crosswalk will be painted over an existing crosswalk at Front and Main streets. The location was identified as one that will satisfy traffic control laws while still being centrally located in the downtown core.

SueWing said he and the other volunteers feel it’s important for Juneau to celebrate the LGBTQ+ community.

A splash of color amid the famously gray Juneau weather would be a welcome change, too.

“It’s kind of that nod to, ‘We’re moving forward,’ and, ‘We’re an accepting community, and we celebrate as many people as we can,'” SueWing said. “And also just to have some color in this community and something that’s different.”

The online fundraiser has raised over $1,700 so far. SueWing said they’ve received business donations from Amalga Distillery and Valley Paint Center as well.

They still need about $1,200 more to do the initial installation. He said they’d like to get the crosswalk painted as quickly as possible.

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