By Casey Eberle
June 21, 2010
First of all let me say, that yes I am a new resident of Ketchikan.
It seems that many in this town feel that unless you have been
here for an extended period of time you aren't a "local",
but I am here for the long haul, and there are several things
about this town that I have noticed.
First off, I've been reading closely about the battles of the
new pool and the library. While I feel that the whole concept
of a library is a relic of the 20th century, and has been put
to pasture by the overwhelming availability of information and
data via the internet, I can see the desire to have one. On the
other hand, spending tax money on a swimming pool, something
that maybe 1% of the population will ever use more than one time
just seems absurd. I've read the arguments about how it's essential
for the kids, and so on and so on. The bottom line is a swimming
pool does nothing to promote the general welfare of the town's
population is any way, shape or form.
I am always reading and hearing comments about how downtown has
been "lost" to the tourist industry. There is no doubt
the tourist industry and the money that it brings the town is
vital to Ketchikan's well being. However, I feel that the "locals"
and the tourists, if done properly by the local government and
residents, can both enjoy our downtown area.
Yes, the tourist industry needs the "tourist trap"
shops that dominate the downtown area. However, do we really
need jewelry stores occupying every store front for an entire
block? While all these shops may bring money to the shop owners,
they really don't bring anything of value to the town. Could
no regulation be passed to limit the amount of jewelry stores
per a given amount of area? Regulating these type of shops, would
allow room for other types of stores, be it shoe, clothing, or
food shops, to occupy the downtown area and serve BOTH the tourists
AND the residents. Several of my new friends here have told me
of the time when a resident could shop downtown all year long.
Why can't we return to this. There is one major company here
that sales items of all types to the locals of Ketchikan, with
its multiple store fronts. However due to a general lack of competition
their prices and generally accepted by everyone to be outrages.
Regulating the amount of tourist type store-fronts would allow
a healthy market competition to return to the town. Items purchased
via the internet would decrease, tax revenue would increase and
I believe the general "happiness" of the local population
I recently returned from a week-long business trip to Petersburg.
That trip is what has opened my eyes to many of these topics.
While I'm sure Petersburg does have its problems, as an outsider
I was struck by the balance it has seemed to strike between serving
both the locals and the tourists.
If the local government is so eager to spend money, let s come
up with projects that will bring joy and value to both the tourist
trade and the local population. Things like a "boardwalk"
type area with fishing piers, open fish markets, and the like.
Let's encourage not hinder local shops to open and stay open
all year long. Let's strive to do the things that can make Ketchikan
more than a tourist-trap town. Something that both the tourists
and the locals can be proud of.
Received June 18, 2010 - Published
June 21, 2010
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