SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


When will rate hikes be enough to improve infrastucture?
By Tom Fisher


February 27, 2008
Wednesday PM

Well once again the rates for reserved moorage are raised and yet there is hardly any improvements being done to the harbors. For the last 15 years I have complained and begged, got down on my knees and asked to get my finger float fixed. Yet I am repeatedly blown off as if it isn't important, however if Karl Amylon had to walk down my finger float to check his boat it would have been fixed 10 years ago.

I travel around S.E. and Thomas Basin is the only harbor I can think of that doesn't have shower and bathroom facilities at the head of the ramp. Wrangell and Craig both have built new harbors in the last few years, Sitka has built 2 new harbors. Ketchikan can't even put a porta potty at the top of the ramp. I pointed this out to an employee of the harbor department and was told you can use the Potlatch Bar's restroom, WHOA.

I read with amusement the capital improvement list for the tourism industry. They get new docks, new restrooms, better parking for their busses, a new crossing guard. It definitely appears to me that if you are not associated with the tourism industry you are a second class citizen in this town.

When I was growing up here there were three major industries floating our economy. We all know what they were but in case the city council has forgotten I will remind them -- they were logging, fishing and tourism. Two of these industries are resource extraction industries that actually either make something or feed people.

The logging industry still exists however not in the scale that it was when I was a kid, but trees are still being cut. Fishing is alive and very much healthy, Ketchikan doesn't see it because Ketchikan has told the commercial fleet to go away by not providing the infrastructure that other towns in S.E. Alaska are providing. But our economy will be saved by relying solely on the mighty tourism dollar.

My first question to the powers that be in K-town is, what happens to the tourism industry with $5.00 a gallon gasoline and people don't have the discretionary income to spend on vacations to Ketchikan?

My next question is why there has been no thought put into improving the infrastructure that would support the fishing industry mooring their vessels in Ketchikan and doing their repair work here? Look at Sitka and Wrangell they both have full harbors in the winter with welders, wooden boat shipwrights, fiberglass repair workers, and refrigeration workers employed full time. These are all good full time jobs that pay well, they are in Sitka and Wrangell because both those cities have provided the needed infrastructure.

Last question, how high does the city need to raise the moorage rates so we can see some improvements in the harbors? I can guarantee the current rate hike is not enough. Maybe we should just close down the harbors especially Thomas Basin, then we could pave it over and have more space to park tour busses.

Tom Fisher
Ketchikan, AK

About: "Born and raised in Ketchikan, and lived here all my life. I have owned and operated a Trolling boat for 35 years, and have paid for a reserved stall in Thomas Basin for close to 25 years."

Received February 27, 2008 - Published February 27, 2008


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Ketchikan, Alaska