SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


Citizens for Ketchikan's Future
By Chris Elliott


May 22, 2007

The most recent assault on the rights of all property owners follows on the heels of an ongoing attempt to change current zoning ordinances on building height in the Newtown area. Relying on the understandable local distaste for the proliferation of jewelry stores in the downtown area, a small group of citizens is feverishly working to limit the number of jewelry stores in the Newtown area by placing harsh and indefensible restrictions on the property owners. Fully aware that these restrictions will have no effect whatsoever on the existing downtown businesses inasmuch as any good lawyer can either successfully challenge the legality of the restrictions or grandfather these rights for several centuries, it is obvious that the group is targeting Newtown.

I've lived in Ketchikan over 50 years. My mother owned a dress shop on Mission where Bawden intersects and passes Whale Park. My father worked at the Spruce Mill, about where the Great Alaska Logging Show wows its crowds. We got our groceries from Mr. Rollog at Federal Market, had our prescriptions filled by Mr. McClure at Federal Drug, and bought saddle shoes from Mr. Brice at Champion Shoe. After school, I ran errands for a nice lady who worked at the Dime Store. I remember what it was like. Do I wish we could go back to those days? Of course. But it's over.

We don't have government to sustain our economy like Juneau. We don't have the highliners like Petersburg, which may have the highest per capita income in the State, and I don't know what they're growing in Sitka that keeps them so happy. We have tourists, and it's time to make lemonade.

One of the sponsors told me on Saturday morning that even the tourists don't like the jewelry stores and that it hurts Ketchikan as a tourist destination. Really? Who's buying the jewelry? Are these jewelry store owners in business to lose money? That's a non-starter. Someone is obviously buying, and I seriously doubt it's locals.

For the sake of argument, let's say that some of the tourists are looking for the real Alaska, for what Ketchikan was. Many of the jewelry stores occupy space formerly occupied by bars. Bob Kinerk has a line in The Fish Pirate's Daughter about the streets being full of drunks. Remember? You could hit about ten bars from the tunnel to the federal building. Those were the days. Would we now be considering cleaning up the downtown area? ( It's disgraceful. All that vomit on the streets. )

Good old-fashioned capitalism cleaned up the downtown area. Meanwhile, Newtown was dying. Where were the investors willing to put in a grocery store or a drug store or a book store or a restaurant? I must have missed the stampede of concerned citizens who now want to revitalize Newtown and take it back from the tourists. It's not too late. I see a FOR RENT sign on the old union hall building. Step up. Put your money where your mouth is. That's the American way. Allowing this group to run roughshod over the rights of the Newtown property owners is the first step down a path of unknown consequences. Will the Golden Arches rise from Hopkins Alley, tempting tourists and locals alike to succumb to the gastronomical delights of a Big Mac? Mr. Freeman may not be the only one with a streak of vindictiveness.

Chris Elliott
Ketchikan, AK

Received May 20, 2007 - Published May 22, 2007

About: "Ketchikan property owner"



Citizens' group asks, "What fate do we choose for our community?" - Citizens for Ketchikan's Future (CKF), a newly formed citizens' group, has submitted a voters' initiative to the Ketchikan Gateway Borough Clerk's office to limit the density of stores exclusively selling jewelry within the City of Ketchikan. Upon approval by the Borough Clerk, the group will collect the required signatures of the 533 registered voters necessary to have the item placed on the regular October ballot. - More...
Friday - May 18, 2007



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