SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


Performing Arts Center
By Rodney Dial


February 05, 2009
Thursday PM

Congratulation to Lallette Kistler and the Arts Council regarding their efforts to secure a borough endorsement of $500,000 Cruise Ship funds for a performing arts center.

I must confess that I take a certain amount of satisfaction from the knowledge that these funds, should the borough give them to the Council, are only and exclusively available because this community voted NOT TO CONSOLIDATE two years ago. It is extremely ironic that the Arts Council and most of its members, who were extremely PRO-consolidation, may have a new building only because we did not consolidate. You may get your funds without costing local taxpayers a dime. I would ask that you remember this the next time some fool tries to resurrect consolidation for the sixth time.

As the Arts Council moves forward with their goal of turning the Fireside building into a performing arts center you are going to find yourself in the uncomfortable position of being forced to take a stand on the new library issue.

Mrs. Kistler s letter states that there is abundant parking near the location where they intend to build the new performing arts center. As a nearby property owner I would argue that parking for a performing arts center in this location is marginal at best and poor during the summer months. Even if you assume that parking for this new facility is adequate, it is only so because of the parking lot across the street. Yes, the same parking lot that library supporters intend to turn into the new library. Building the Library in this location will displace several dozen parking spaces (where will they go?).

I am sure that the Arts Council would like to support both projects, but the reality is that Borough Law will not allow either to be built without the required number of parking spaces. Depending on how you design the center, several dozen NEW spaces may be required.

My guess is that the Council has considered this dilemma and hopes to downplay concerns, expecting government to solve this problem after both structures have been built by constructing a multi-million dollar parking garage at taxpayer expense.

I would suggest that you not try to argue for a parking exemption claiming that the center will be used primarily during non business hours. To do so opens the borough s dedication of these funds to a legal challenge that they are not an appropriate use of the Cruise Ship Tax funds. As you know these funds must have a nexus to the cruise ship passenger who is in town primarily during business hours (they sail at night).
You also need to keep in mind the many business owners and their employees who work in the area, need parking and can not be displaced. This presents new problems for our planning director as she attempts to bring in new business, and building owners attempting to rent vacant office space.

Bottom line: If you want to make the performing arts center a reality you need to oppose any attempt to build the library in the parking lot across the street. Only then can you make a semi-reasonable argument that there is adequate parking, and work for an exemption. Your only other option is to solve the parking problem first, which you do not have the funds to fix, and for which the public likely will have no interest in paying for.

I also find myself wondering if local government is concerned at all, about all the prime property being removed from the tax roles in town. How much revenue does the Salmon Landing area generate in taxes, and how much could the lot across from the Federal building generate if it were kept in private hands and developed?

In any case, I wish the Arts Council the best in their efforts to build their facility without local taxpayer funds.

And yes, you are welcome for our efforts in stopping consolidation.

Rodney Dial
Ketchikan, AK

Received February 05, 2009 - Published February 05, 2009


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letterPerforming Arts Center By Lallette Kistler

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