SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


Long Term Planning is the right direction
By Patti Mackey


August 22, 2007

The citizen led effort to limit jewelry stores in Ketchikan has generated considerable discussion among residents. But before a vote takes place that could have serious ramifications, caution needs to be exercised. Residents must be very, very sure that the singling out of one sector of our retail trade in Ketchikan will be an actual solution to an actual problem.

The fact that we have a large number of Jewelry stores in Ketchikan is not the underlying problem. Rather what our community faces are the impacts from a rapidly changing local economy. Ketchikan has had to be reactionary in order to survive. The volatility of the timber industry, the politics and globalization of commercial fishing and the rapid growth of the cruise industry has challenged our town in myriad ways.

We have evolved into a community where many interests run parallel- yet little has been done to take those interests and settle on a cohesive community planning effort. Fortunately we have the basic framework to generate an approach to community planning that can be effective and inclusive. We have elected officials who ran for office because they believe in the future of our community. We have a host of local organizations who contribute greatly to our quality of life and residents with insight and a passion for living here whose opinions should matter and be utilized. We have young people who will soon make the decision of whether they stay, or whether they leave their hometowns and their input regarding the future of this community is critical.

There have been forums, studies, task forces and strategic planning programs taking place for several years. Everything from port development to maintaining historic structures to educational goals in the school system and long term needs for our aging population have been discussed. We are in the midst of designing a new library, we need to expand and improve harbor facilities, and we have committed our time and money to better health care and housing. All of these items are important. All of the findings from the research and reports generated could and should be drawn together to reach common goals determined by the community.

In order to succeed, this effort must get buy in from local government. This is a task that both the City and Borough Mayor should endorse- that the City Council, the Borough Assembly and our civic employees must support with time, staffing and yes, some money. It must be inclusive. It needs to make use of the information we already have and be efficient in filling in the blanks. And it must be a priority with a timeline and a process that makes the best use of what has already been done.

Two years ago, the Ketchikan Visitors Bureau launched our new brand identity, including our new tagline, which states: Ketchikan, Our lifestyle, your reward. The continued success of Ketchikan as a visitor destination relies heavily on our ability to discern what exactly our identity is, and then embrace it. From an economic standpoint, everything we do to improve the visitor experience in Ketchikan will help pay the bills. From a lifestyle standpoint, everything we do to better our town will benefit our residents and secure our future.

The time has come to stop being reactionary and proactively determine what our town will be in the next five, ten or twenty years. The jewelry store initiative is indicative that we are long overdue to move forward. But it will not generate the solution to what really is the overarching need in our community at this time. Should it go to a vote it will result in a further fractionalization of our town instead of bringing together ideas and opportunities for our future.

Developing a long term plan for the future of our community for Ketchikan should be viewed as not only necessary, but prudent.

Patti Mackey
Ketchikan, AK

Received August 21, 2007 - Published August 22, 2007

About: "Executive Director of the Ketchikan Visitors Bureau "


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Ketchikan, Alaska