SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


Downtown / Newtown
By Rodney Dial


June 02, 2008

Ketchikan has come a long way since the demise of the pulp mill and it's exciting to see the improvements occurring in the downtown and Newtown areas. If I could make a suggestion to our elected officials it would be to keep a close eye on the image being communicated to our visitors, especially during the weekend nights.

Most of us who have traveled to a new vacation spot did so because of a positive experience reported by a family or friend. Word of mouth is the best advertising that money can't buy, and when a destination develops a bad reputation it becomes almost impossible to overcome. Ask yourself how many people choose not to travel to Israel, Egypt or even New Orleans due to concerns for their safety?

My point is that all the efforts to make our community a prime tourist destination will be for naught, if a visitor doesn't feel safe walking down the street at night. Many living in Ketchikan have no idea of what takes place in the Downtown / Newtown area every Friday and Saturday night. Each weekend night starting around 10 pm, and ending around 3 am, a host of lawlessness and abhorrent behavior takes place.

Just this Friday from my commercial property in Newtown I observed the following:

-Three street fights which blocked traffic on two occasions.

-People chasing others down the street screaming and cursing.

-At least one ambulance call to a local bar.

-Dozens, yes dozens, of drunks staggering down the street (Some barely conscious).

-Open drug use.

-KPD foot pursuit.

-Reckless driving, cars with blazing sub woofers that could be heard a block away.

-One young lady who needed to vomit on the sidewalk, and another who tired to urinate near a Newtown building but was pulled away by their friend.

The one thing I didn't see last Friday night was the usual vandalism of the cars and property in the area. This may be in part because I have installed a six camera security system on my property. Now instead of damaging vehicles, selected losers just walk by flipping off the cameras. I'm sure the vandalism is still occurring, it probably just moved down the street.

To the elected officials reading this; If you doubt this is happening each weekend night you have an open invitation to watch the show from my Newtown property (call me). It will give us time to discuss the broken windows' theory. If your desire is for Ketchikan to be as attractive as possible and maximize tourism then you need to address this problem.

I would like to say that KPD is doing a commendable job trying to control the weekend anarchy. Patrol cars can be seen frequently patrolling this area, and even the Troopers are there as time allows. However and unfortunately, KPD seems to have their hands full and needs the help of our elected officials to keep our community a safe, clean place to live and visit.

My suggestion to the City is to start a limited community service patrol (CSP) on the weekends from 10 pm to 3 am. Reallocate three of your crossing guard positions to this task, outfit them with blaze orange security vests and a radio. Position one on each side of the tunnel, and one near 1st City Saloon. Their presence alone will prevent a significant amount of criminal activity. For those not deterred from lawlessness, the CSP would be a set of eyes for KPD and increase their effectiveness.

Increased security does not need to cost the community extra, we just need to reallocate our resources to the best possible uses. We will receive a far greater return on investment by employing a few individuals to help maintain order, then we ever will with crossing guards. Perhaps we need both, that is for our elected officials to decide. I can only say that we are starting to lose control of the downtown area on the weekends and it is negatively affecting our community.

Rodney Dial
Ketchikan, AK


Received June 02, 2008 - Published June 02, 2008


Viewpoints - Opinion Letters:

letter Webmail Your Opinion Letter to the Editor



Note: Comments published on Viewpoints are the opinions of the writer
and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Sitnews.


E-mail your letters & opinions to
Your full name, city and state are required for publication.

SitNews ©2008
Stories In The News
Ketchikan, Alaska