SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


Democracy Is Messy
By Samuel Bergeron


June 09, 2010
Wednesday PM

Winston Churchill said "Democracy is the worst form of government except for all the others that have been tried". I'm grateful I live in a country that allows its citizens to criticize and challenge its government. The decision to start a ballot initiative to require the City to build a future library on property it already owns and keep it in downtown Ketchikan was well considered by our group. We are made up of planners, builders, citizens, land developers, local business leaders, realtors and concerned community members of both the City and Borough. We are united in the concept that the library should be centrally located downtown so all of the public has convenient access. After all, it is a Public Library.

We did the math on building the new Library on property the City owns and wondered why that wasn't a top priority for the selection committee, the City Council, and City staff. The Copper Ridge site is slated to cost $700,000.00 with another $200,000.00 for a necessary geotechnical study. Upwards of $500,000.00 or more may be required for acceptable road access and a usable building site, not to mention a stop light on the Third Avenue bypass, ($500,000.00). So we will probably put out a million dollars for this property, which is located next to active rock quarry, plus the cost of a stop light on the bypass that nobody wants. The savings, if we build on City-owned property, can go as high as two million dollars.

If we build on property we already own the value of the property can be used as a match towards the 50/50 library grant. That will save us millions of dollars. These savings will not be realized by just accepting the site the City Council has selected and it's not just a good answer to vote in new Council members at the next election , as proposed by some of our critics of our ballot initiative.

A representative democracy is a handy thing. It allows a few people to operate the government for our benefit, but some questions the government faces are too big for them to answer alone and they should go the people and ask them. This is one of those questions.

Samuel Bergeron
Ketchikan, AK


Received June 07, 2010 - Published June 09, 2010


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