SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


City improvements
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 would increase.

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.

Casey Eberle
Ketchikan, AK


Received June 18, 2010 - Published June 21, 2010


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