SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


RE: Library Location Can't Recreate The Past
By Patrick Jirschele


August 23, 2010

In Eric Muench's letter he asks the question, "Should our needed new library be built in a location favored by the City Council, or should it be forced into a restricted area of downtown?"

The real question is "Should the library be built in a location favored by the electorate, or one forced on us by the City Council?".

The recommendation to put a library in the pit at Copper Ridge was made by The Library Feasibility Committee in unadvertised meetings. In order to correct their violation of the "open meetings act" two public meetings were held. In both meetings a presentation was made uninterrupted by the Committee's Anchorage architect. In neither meeting was a group of local (unpaid) architects and professional's allowed to finish their presentation of a Main School lot library. In fact they were repeatedly interrupted and told to hurry up during the 4pm Mother's Day meeting. (Who holds a meeting on Mother's Day?) When asked for a show of hands on Mother's Day, an overwhelming number in the audience wanted to try and keep the library where it is.

There are folks who are saying that the library site at the Copper Ridge rock pit is easy to access. Well, that is true, if you have a car and can drive up to it. But what about all the folks that don't drive? What about the children that walk or ride their bicycles? What about the elderly that walk to the library regularly now? What about the moms that are just making it here and can't afford a car? There are multiple roads to get there, and each one is a long steep climb.

The library is for everyone and should be accessible to everyone, poor or wealthy, healthy or infirm, young or old, and automobile owner or not.

"Tourist ghetto"?, I think not Mr Muench. The downtown is full of local people. Within a few feet of the Library is the Mary Francis with 125 units. That is as many housing units as there is in the Bear Valley Subdivision below the rock pit. Within ten minutes walking there are thousands of downtowners. Many of us walk. We walk to work, we walk to Tatsuda's, and to the library. We walk to places like the Pioneer or Annabel's or The New York for lunch and coffee. We walk to Sea Imports and Rain Country and now two book stores. And the arts, we walk to downtown arts that would be the envy of any community. Yes, we lost the drug store due to illness, but it won't be long and that need will be filled. Many of the old businesses are gone, not because of tourism, but their inability to compete with Walmart.

Because of tourism the downtown isn't a ghetto. Just think what the Spruce Mill property would be like if it weren't for tourist related business. Without tourism to fill the timber void, I'm afraid we would still be looking at broken down industrial buildings. Because of tourism we have a port that is multi use, good sidewalks and a waterfront promenade that locals use after the cruise ships have spent their few hours here. Downtown buildings are renovated and maintained. It seems you missed the whole idea of the Neighborhood Revitalization Plan. The way I see it, it is to use CPV funds (the head tax) on things good for the tourists and good for the locals.

Mr. Muench, revitalizing Downtown isn't about turning back the clock to what was, it's about community, vitality, and making Ketchikan healthy as a whole. It is about making Downtown, what it can be for the citizens of Ketchikan using as many tourist dollars as possible.

I'm sorry Mr. Muench, but I can't recall your voice when the City Council (the same City Council that favors the Copper Ridge pit) screwed up Ryus Float, we could have used you.

Mr. Muench, get out of your car and walk downtown. Get ice cream at The Little Dipper or Polar Treats, stop at Cahoots and talk to Diane, and check out the guy's making popcorn across the street. Those guys have plans.......just stay out of their way because they are very enthusiastic about Downtown and it is infectious! Then turn around and really look hard at our library, and see what we have. Second rate? No way. An exceptional building in a beautiful setting, second to none!


And don't worry, your father-in-law will find another buyer for the Copper Ridge property.

Till Next Time,

Patrick Jirschele
A Pennock Island resident that is proud to be considered a "Downtowner".
Ketchikan, AK


Received August 21, 2010 - Published August 23, 2010


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letterLibrary Location Can't Recreate The Past By Eric Muench

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