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White Cliff Center Project -- Why White Cliff?
By James A. Van Altvorst


September 15, 2006

Suggestions that the Borough should destroy or sell White Cliff often cite worries about uncontrollable costs. Remodel projects carry certain risks; however, one can easily find many examples of successful remodeling projects. Juneau's Capital School renovation, a project similar in size and complexity, is just one. Clearly, risks inherent in renovation are manageable.

Also, we must be cautious about assumptions that new buildings are free of errors or troubles. Design or specifications may not be quite right in spite of due diligence; construction can be less than perfect. In the end, new buildings rarely meet all expectations.

Finally, we must recognize the fact that White Cliff is an existing and valuable community asset uniquely adaptable and suitably located to successfully serve as a combined center for senior and arts programs. With its rich heritage and deep connections to this community, it is a treasure worth keeping. Older structures, like White Cliff, hold and reflect our history. They are important because their very presence helps us remember our past and understand who we are today. We can ill-afford to demolish White Cliff - it is a precious link between our past and our future.

To help ensure a successful project, the White Cliff Center Steering Committee contracted with architects and engineers experienced in historic structures to thoroughly evaluate White Cliff School. They concluded that White Cliff is sound and a good candidate for renovation. Through many meetings with potential users, they determined that White Cliff is well-suited for the community's senior services and arts programs. They carefully and conservatively evaluated the costs of renovation, including contingencies appropriate for a renovation project, and of long term maintenance and operation, concluding that these costs are comparable to new construction. Based upon all the work done to date, the proposed White Cliff Center renovation project appears feasible and practical. Renovating the White Cliff School will be a sound investment - a way to cherish our heritage and build a community for our future. Please vote "yes" on Ballot Propositions 1 and 2 on October 3.


James A. Van Altvorst
Ketchikan, AK - USA

About: "Thirty-plus year resident of Ketchikan. At-large member of the White Cliff Center Steering Committee."



On the Web:

Proposition 1 - Sales Tax Increase: For the full text of Ordinance No. 1403 click here

Proposition 2 - Bonds: For the full text of Ordinance No. 1404 click here

White Cliff Project



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Ketchikan, Alaska