KETCHIKAN DOCK EXPANSION:
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
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
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:
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
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?
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
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