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By Chris Herby


August 31, 2005

I have been reading some pretty good opinions about port expansion since the bond measure was voted down. I would like to offer my own opinion now. First of all, I don't think some of the comments made by the mayor and council immediately following the election were a very good step towards finding a workable expansion plan. Some of the comments made reminded me of spoiled 5 year olds that didn't get the toy they asked for. I value our tourism industry and I certainly support adding ship berths to accommodate the cruise industry. I feel that all parties that support expansion need to pull together and develop a plan that can be good for the community and pass voter approval. I am confident this can be accomplished if we all stay positive in our approach and our comments. I didn't support the plan that was put before the voters because it blocked too much waterfront view, overly restricted City Float, caused overcrowding in one area, cost too much, and only benefited property owners in one area of town.

I feel there is only one plan that will be good for the community and pass voter approval. Here it is. First, we should not spend tens of millions of dollars to tear apart and re-align berth two which would block City Float and our Narrows' views. This was the worst part of the failed bond proposition. We should build one new berth in front of the former Taquan property and one new berth south of the Thomas Basin breakwater. The City should partner with the interested private company to build the north end pier. This type of partnership will save money and is good for our community. The city should be sole owner of the south end berth because they already own the property essential for this berth. Please consider all of the following positive features of this plan. It does not block nearly as much of our view. It lessens congestion by spreading pedestrian traffic from Water Street to Stedman Street. It doesn't affect small boat harbors as the failed option did. The subsurface conditions south of Thomas Basin are much better for pile driving which makes it much less expensive. This plan will help upgrade properties along Stedman Street as well as along Water Street in the Newtown area.

This plan is a compromise plan which gives everyone something but no one everything. Here's what I mean by that. The south end property owners want the 2 ship pier south of the breakwater but this option only gives one. The north end property owners also wanted two piers and this only provides one. Trident Seafoods didn't want any ships in their vicinity and this option puts one there. This would have much less impact on them, since the ship would be on the outside of the pier thus providing great distance between a ship and the cannery. The distance would most likely be about one and a half football fields. It is also possible that we could build fisherman dock space on the inside of the south end berth. This could provide some very useful dock space for the fishing industry that does business with Trident Seafoods. This could help offset any inconvenience caused by a cruise ship dock. I think the cruise industry would like this plan because it would provide a total of 4 and a half berths rather than only 4 as the failed plan did.

I think this is a plan that should be able to get universal support and if properly presented and explained in a neutral way, get voter approval. I hope our City Council will consider this plan as a viable option and not try to forge ahead on their own plan after a costly election clearly told them not to. If they are in fact moving secretly forward with a north end berth as rumors have it, it would be the most flagrant disregard of voter's opinions in recent memory and should not be tolerated by the public. Hopefully these are only rumors with no basis.


Chris J. Herby
Ketchikan, AK - USA




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