By Russell Thomas
August 23, 2005
I don't disagree with Mr. Bergeron's assessment of the one-sided nature of the City's campaign. However, most would agree that the City Council has a responsibility to whole-heartedly endorse ideas that they believe will sustain the viability of the community. The article in the Daily News a few weeks ago stating that next year's decrease in cruise ship passengers would cost the City millions of dollars in sales tax revenue should have raised the eyebrows of even the harshest cruise ship critic. It seems natural that the City Council would do everything in its power to encourage expansion that they felt would encourage more visitors to come to Ketchikan.
City Council support aside, everyone can agree that facts thrown out in this fight are murky, at best. South end property and business owners cried foul because the city's plan was rushed, not well thought out, and too expensive. Although those may have all been considerations, the truth is that those people were out to protect their own interests. South-end development would have increased property and business values for south enders. The same north-end property ownders and businesses that supported this bond issue would have opposed a south-end development plan for the same reasons.
I did find some statements by those opposing the bond issue quite incredulous. One anti-development ad in the Daily News stated something about not wanting to expand the "downtown ghetto" farther north. Ghetto? High-end stores, professional signage, and clean storefronts hardly qualify a ghetto, especially considering the buildings that these new stores replaced. (Remember our five-star hotel on the corner near Jimbo's?) I would love to talk to someone who honestly would rather have those buildings back instead of one too many jewelry stores that now adorne the sidewalk. It wasn't too long ago that a local businessman paid to have the Borough building painted so it would be more in keeping with the upgrade of the downtown area.
Whether you support the cruise ship dock expansion or not, the reality is that tourism is here to stay. For as much talk as there is about money leaving the city the last day of September, many of us year-round residents depend on tourist revenue to support our families (and the rest of the community) through the winter. It would seem to be in all of our best interest to encourage any and all economic development, whether north or south of the current cruise ship dock.
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