SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska



By Jerry Cegelske


February 06, 2006

It was somewhat of a mystery to me as to why the vote for the cruise ship dock expansion failed.  Numerous statements were later made to explain the no vote, some to my satisfaction, not that that matters.
I thought that it would be a benefit to the community in several ways.  First it would help the economic viability of the New Town area by improving the area.  Some of the sidewalks there are very narrow and dangerous in some cases.  The second is that the employment opportunities generated by the project would generate jobs.  People talk about the number of times a dollar circulates in the community and that it has a benefit ratio of seven or eight, meaning it circulates seven or eight times before leaving the community.  In some cases, these jobs would also have a benefit ratio many times their original impact.
The fact that the improvements would be made to pedestrian ways, parking, and other areas would show the property owners in the area that an investment was being made which would benefit them.  This should be an encouragement for them to finance improvements in their own properties, knowing that more tourists would be using the area to their financial benefit, thus creating more jobs for local contractors and laborers.
It is easy for us to see the benefits, or the negatives of any dock expansion plans, North or South, but how do the tourists see Ketchikan?  I would encourage you to read the following post on the internet. It is what a tourist experienced and observed on his visit to Ketchikan (anchored out) and what he wanted to do while here.  The following is an exerpt from the travelog:

 "After spending about an hour at the cannery, we headed back toward Ketchikan. We made a stop at the Saxman Totem Pole Museum. This was an interesting stop and included only 10 minutes to shop in the gift shop there. I got the impression that the tour operator didn't have a stake in that gift shop.

By this time, it was steadily raining. I didn't mind the rain because I was prepared for rainy weather in Ketchikan and I dressed accordingly. We got back on the bus and were dropped off at the tender line 40 minutes before we were originally told the last call for tender service would be. Hardly enough time to do any walking around or shopping in Ketchikan.

We were told by a local that most of the shops around the cruise ship piers have been bought by the cruise lines. If this is true, it is unfortunate for the citizens of Alaska. If they have to put up with thousands of people swarming their towns each day, they should be the ones getting the financial benefit, not the cruise ships, who are already making money.

We walked through a couple of shops near the area of the pier and then decided to get in line for the tender about 10 minutes before last call time. The tender line was huge! It seem as though everyone had decided to return to the ship at the same time. The tender dock was located between the bow of the Celebrity Summit and the stern of the Statendam. The line for the tender to the Mercury ran half the length of the Statendam and was fold back half again. And all of the Mercury passengers were standing in the rain.

We stood in line for 45 minutes before we reached a tender and were boarded for the Mercury. When we got back on the Mercury, there were crew members standing with stacks of warm towels for any passenger who wanted a towel. My feeling was that we shouldn't have been made to stand in the rain in the first place.

With only 6 hours scheduled for the port of Ketchikan, we had carefully planned which excursion would allow us to see some sights and still allow adequate time for walking around town. The added time for tendering and the delays by the tour folks from our excursion left us no time to enjoy the town of Ketchikan. If we'd had additional time to shop, it would have been of little use. Similar to the situation in Skagway, the number of cruise ships in port all at once completely overwhelms these Alaskan towns. I doubt we would have found any easier places to shop or eat in Ketchikan than we found in Skagway. As much as we hated to put up with the crowds in the Palm Springs Café buffet lines, they were preferable to the lines in the restaurants on shore."

The third benefit that I see from a dock expansion is that it would allow more people a longer time to be in Ketchikan.  It would allow the tourist more time to take advantage of tours offered by locals and see local sites and shops instead of just staying in the downtown shop area.  It should have the benefit of getting more people away from the downtown core area to some of the other interesting areas Ketchikan has to offer.  I would greatly appreciate this as I have witnessed the tourists standing under the arch when I wanted to drive down the street, or waited for a red light only to have them start across the street when I have a green light.
I have taken the time to talk with tourists from all over the globe.  Most of them wanted to learn more about the area, meet the people, and experience a "real" Alaska, not spend all their time in a jewelry shop.  If facilities are properly created to provide a quality experience for them, we will all have a better experience from their visit.
I've often wondered "Where is the Ketchikan/ Saxman Salmon-Halibut Bake?"  This would have helped local King salmon fishemen a few years ago when prices were $.75 cents a pound, as well as local guides and businesses.
The opportunity to provide vacation pleasures for tourists is limited only by our imagination, provided we have the facilities to properly manage the influx to make it a quality experience they will recommend to others.
A jet pilot recently died while trying to keep from killing and injuring anyone on the ground.  Many of us want to know more about him and who he was.  We have donated money to help his family, none of whom we have met.  While not on the same level, there are many tourists that come here that want to get to know who you are, how you live, and the town you call home.  Why not help them in the best manner possible?

Jerry Cegelske
Ketchikan, AK - USA


About: Jerry Cegelske is a resident of Ketchikan. He is retired from the US Forest Service and currently a Code Enforcement Officer with the Ketchikan Gateway Borough.



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