By Bobbie McCreary
January 20, 2006
About: Roberta (Bobbie) McCreary is a resident of Ketchikan and the Newtown Neighborhood.
by Bobbie McCreary
I am very concerned that the attacks David Rubin and I received at the Chamber of Commerce luncheon yesterday [Wednesday] represent a significant set-back to what you, the City Council, and this community are trying to accomplish in serving tourism.
First, let me clarify, as I have in other venues, I am coming before you tonight, as an individual, not as a representative of the neighborhood association that is under formation for the NewTown property owners.
Contrary to some public opinion, I am not opposed to the extension, and I emphasize the term "extension" (not expansion) of Berth III and the building of Berth IV, nor have I made recommendations to limit certain types of businesses, such as jewelry stores. Unfortunately, it appears that some individuals with personal agendas have chosen to circulate inaccurate information about what I am trying to accomplish. (In this case, I wish it were not necessary to say "I" because I believe many people in this community support what "we" are sayingthis is a chance for our community to take advantage of a one-time opportunity to do this right, to redevelop the area of town commonly known as NewTown with a historic overlay-and to do so requires that our community undertake a planning process.)
NewTown is a Focus Area for our opportunity to develop a historic view of Ketchikan. With the changes that may be happening soon--NewTown is the study and impact area of those changes. There is a community-wide need to pay attention to managing these changes better-to benefit from the dollars that tourism brings us with terms that are appropriate to people that live and work here. We simply have to do a better job as a community. This is our last chance to position the City of Ketchikan as a unique tourist destination and desirable community for generations to come. (regardless of what happens to the cruise ships)
I am enclosing the comments from participants of the first open meeting we held with 45 commercial and residential property owners of the NewTown area. You will notice that the nature of these comments is positive and solution-oriented for the most part. We have a large number of people who are willing to work together to work out compromises for the redevelopment of the NewTown area that will result in the betterment of our neighborhood and the community as a whole. We need support of local government to make this happen.
And, now to the real, underlying issue. We are already losing hold on the tourist business; at least according to the travel critics. I have summarized excerpts taken from 3 travel books I picked up on my return trip through Seattle this week. As the Daily News article ended, quoting business owner Kim Kirby, "it is important to get to the 'crux of the problem' which is to determine why people voted against the dock funding.
Again I speak as an individual. Unfortunately, within this community, one which I chose to move to and love to live in, there is a lot of distrust. The process that leads to experiences like the one Dave and I weathered at yesterday's Chamber luncheon fuel this distrust. Some of that distrust has been directed towards local government in the past, as people feel decisions are made without public disclosure and public input. The four-page glossary brochure sent to residents last year fueled the distrust; it didn't provide full information, it didn't really educate the public or explain the issue; it was an advertising piece for "Vote Yes."
I strongly urge you to provide the community with the information they need to know to understand why the dock extensions are needed. I spent and hour and a half with Rick Erickson at SE Stevedoring a couple of weeks ago asking him to explain to me what the situation was that requires these new docking facilities. As he did so, I said, Rick, "I don't think the community understands what you are telling me. You guys probably think this is obvious, but we don't know about these facts." (About the number of 1000' Panamax ships now and how the cruise lines must draw straws about who will anchor out if there is inadequate berthing; about how the "hot berthing" --2 ships sharing one slot during the day--severely curtails the amount of time-and money-the tourist can spend on shore.)
I applaud you for bringing the MOA before a special public hearing on Tuesday evening. I also applaud you for removing the reference to eminent domain which was creating a great deal of discussion and concern. This is a start in the right direction to providing information and building support among community members.
The way to win trust is not to discredit the perceived opposition, but rather to engage the local citizens in determining their own destiny; such as the development of the uplands area associated with extending the dock capacity. I pledge my whole-hearted assistance in providing the forum and process to disseminate information to the voters that will enable them to understand the issues surrounding the need for and development of additional docking space. And I trust you will support the good planning we need to do to improve our neighborhood and our community.
and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Sitnews.
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