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New Berths: North or South?
by Thomas Ferry


March 06, 2005

There are two final options that the City Council will be voting on as to where the new cruise ship berths will be built... option F and option C . The best option when you weigh out all the negatives and positives of both is the F option to the north. The two negatives listed by the city for the north option are that someone's view might be impaired for four months in the summer and that it costs more than the southern option.

Let's examine both, First off I really doubt that anyone will complain about their view as so far no one in the neighborhoods above the tunnel that have their views impaired for the summer months have said anything or have tried to sue the city. The cost issue is also something that can be worked out as actual construction costs are about the same for the docks only the figure given by the city of eight million for land acquisition is grossly inflated. A figure of 1.5 million is closer to the truth. Fifteen million dollars of the F option is not for land acquisition or dock construction but for downtown improvements that have been tacked onto the project.

If the city would let Southeast Stevedoring and the private sector build the one northern berth and have the city build the reconfiguration of berth three on the Tongass dock, the cost would be half of what it is to go south - but of course this makes too much sense. The city does not like saving money or losing control.

Let's look at the southern option C scenario. Say that there were no canneries that could leave town and take down the entire fishing industry in Ketchikan. It is still not the best option for the reason that the plan will not bring three panamax class ships to the downtown core (defined as anything north of Creek Street). Right now the three existing berths downtown are already outdated. What the downtown core needs is berthing for the biggest panamax class of ships we want to see. The downtown core gain something and it will with the F option that will expand the downtown berths doubling the surface of the Tongass dock that will double parking accommodations and help with the parking issue that always plagues this area. It will expand the size of city float and increase the amount of tourists into the downtown core. So if I owned the Salmon Landing mall or Tongass Trading, I would surly want three panamax class ships right in front of me. Another negative of option C is that there will be a traffic light installed at the bottom of Deermount which will slow and impede traffic trying to get around the downtown traffic snarl by taking the bypass. With option C you will run into sixty tour busses at all hours of the day leaving the southern dock to get onto Tongass.

Now the biggest negative of option C, Trident Seafoods and Alaska General Seafoods have repeatedly told the city that the southern berths would adversely impact their ability to operate. Right now Trident has put seven million dollars of capital improvement projects on hold due to the uncertainty of this situation. Some in the community that stand to have their land values double if option C goes forth have said that Trident if bluffing and the ships will not affect the canneries operations. Well that is foolish thinking as the city has already offered to put in place a business interruption fund for Trident to offset harm to the cannery if the ships interfere with operations. And now that I am on that point, this open ended fund jacks up the price of going south - how high? No one knows. One business owner south of Creek Street said that if the canneries fold and leave town, " Oh well, we can build a shopping mall there". It is greedy attitudes like this that will be this town's undoing. This merchant also gave the city council a list of forty business owners who want the ships to go south.

Our group (Citizens For Choice) did not take that path, we put out a petition for all people to sign as to which way they want our community to go, and now we have over two thousand three hundred signatures that prefer the F option to the north. Now that I am on to the point of community support I will say that the F option will prevail in the end. It has by far the most support of the community and that support translates into votes and votes are what are going to determine the final outcome of the debate.

If the council votes to push option C the bond will be voted down - then they will be back to square one with the clock ticking to get the docks built, I would hope that a council member reading this will come forth with a resolution that it be put forth to the voters... a simple C or F - vote north or south. Let the people decide.

If the council votes to go with the F option it will pass by a huge margin. These are the options. Let's go with the one that has community wide support option F and get it built!

Thank you.

Thomas Ferry
Ketchikan, AK - USA


C and F Options

jpg options F & C


jpg option F

Close up of Option F

jpg dock expansion option F

Tongass Dock Expansion Option F

jpg option F northern berth

Option F Northern Berth


On the Web:

Ports & Harbors Port Expansion Project
City of Ketchikan


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