WE SHOULD ALL BE ABLE TO AGREE
By Robert McClory
September 02, 2006
Several deserving and able groups have spent considerable time to make this facility one that each member of the community can support, utilize and appreciate. First and foremost, local senior citizens would occupy and enjoy the bulk of the second floor. Senior Services serves a growing senior population while trying to work out of an increasingly crowded center in an even busier site (across from the dock expansion project) that cannot meet the needs of our aging population.
Ketchikan Theatre Ballet serves over two hundred youth annually. These dancers are squeezed into cramped space over the ceilings of downtown tourist shops wishing for more peace and quiet than that derived from hundreds of jumping, leaping and tapping dancers who spend hours perfecting their craft while choreographing shows to be watched by thousands of local viewers annually. Aside from dance, these kids learn discipline, teamwork, responsibility and self-esteem. They become better citizens, and they are worth the investment. Like community-funded ball fields that help us raise healthy kids by involving them in healthy activities, community-funded dance studios have a place in Ketchikan.
Besides youth and seniors wanting to breathe new life into White Cliff, the Ketchikan Area Arts and Humanities Council will create an exhibition area that will make this a public facility we will all enjoy and appreciate with each visit. And a small theatre will provide a much-needed home for First City Players and their growing audiences who have only limited access to Kayhi's large pricey auditorium. These organizations provide programs for people of all ages in our community, and a strong arts community helps attract people to visit and reside in Ketchikan.
This minimal investment is good for our economy, and it will generate much more than the 50 cents tax generated by each $100 spent in the area when considering the opportunities and facilities it will provide our youth and seniors.
Historic Ketchikan has fully supported the concept of moving established local groups into a building that embodies the character of this community. White Cliff has a history and appreciation that goes well beyond the boundaries of Ketchikan and Southeast Alaska---a history we must retain if possible.
Mindful of the users both young and old who will benefit from this facility, I plan to vote YES for a half cent sales tax that is dedicated to rebuilding this icon instead of spending the millions of dollars of tax-payer's monies needed to demolish White Cliff.
I believe we have a choice to share a few extra dollars annually from local purchases to breathe new life into this historic facility that still can provide years of use to existing groups supporting youth and senior groups. Or, we can do nothing except watch our taxes pay to demolish it and miss the boat on this unique opportunity.
I hope Ketchikan residents will show their support to build up facilities, resources and groups who are an important part of our community. Please vote on October 3rd. If we don't pass this vote, you may as well get used to the fact that your money will STILL be going to White Cliff - but only for the estimated $3,900,000 to demolish it and abate any hazardous materials, paid with our taxes.
Please join me in investing in the future of the White Cliff Center instead of making White Cliff a thing of the past.
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