SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


The Future of Coast Guard Beach
By Eric Muench


January 13, 2011
Thursday PM

It is now time to begin consideration of the future for Coast Guard Beach property. Last August the Alaska Mental Health Trust owner requested a rezone of the 70 acre parcel from Public Lands and Institutions to Low density Residential and in subsequent public meetings the Trust Land Office director acknowledged that the decision is whether residential or PLI is most suitable zoning. Our local public spoke loud and clear; the Planning Commission agreed, and rezone was denied. AMHT has withdrawn the request. Now for the first time since discussions with the Trust began many years ago, the path is clear to work for a locally preferred future for the parcel. Having denied AMHT the opportunity to create profit by way of subdivision, we must provide their needed revenue by way of acquisition.

The reasons for doing so are many and historical. The property and beach have been used for recreation, subsistence gathering, and education almost forever. For 35 years the Borough's Comprehensive Plan and Coastal Zone Management Plans have called for preserving the property for those uses. Comprehensive Plan Goals 102 and 104 call for open space acquisition, mentioning the Coast Guard Beach specifically, while Goals 204 and 901 call for increasing general and handicapped public access to beaches and recreation areas, which the Ketchikan Beaches Association's Community Vision (accessible at would do with ongoing and future projects. The Coastal Zone Management Plan echoes those calls with Enforceable Policies RCA-1 and RCA-5, for which Coast Guard Beach parcel is a mapped and named designated area for recreation and shoreline access.

Accomplishing permanent public use will take many years so we should get started quickly.

The Borough's leadership is required. Acquisition can be by many routes, including several that do not involve Borough cash purchase. There are federal, State and private foundation programs that were created to fund acquisition of land for such purposes as open space retention, recreation access and wildlife habitat, all of which the Coast Guard Beach property would provide. The Borough Assembly will consider a resolution at its January 17 meeting that also explores other avenues for public ownership.

To benefit the public and honor its obligation to the Trust, the Assembly is encouraged to work with local interest groups and to support, by whatever means are most promising, the goal of public ownership of this most favored shoreline land.

Eric Muench
Ketchikan, AK

About: "I am a long time area resident who is interested in preserving the public's access to valuable resource lands "

Received January 12, 2010 - Published January 13, 2011



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