SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


Ward Cove Pending Sale
By Rob Holston


September 08, 2010
Wednesday AM

For many of the past ten years I was told by the Borough that Ward Cove was needed to anchor the forest products industry for the sake of our economic future. This was back when the Borough loaned large sums from the federal $25,000,000 post KPC shutdown fund. 8-9 & 10 years ago I was arguing that Loggerville deserved a piece of the pie while the Roy Eckert administration said those tidelands were needed for log storage for the saw mill and veneer mill. After Gateway Forest Products folded I thought I had another window of opportunity to purchase land. But this time the entire site was sold to Jerry Jenkins for the veneer mill and a variety of other ventures, such as electrical generation, bottled water, hotels, etc. I did take the opportunity afforded by the KGB / Renaissance sales agreement to enter into a long-term lease with option to purchase with Jenkins. This purchase opportunity was thwarted when Jenkins went belly up and the mill was gutted. I assume that with the sale of veneer site or 29 acres to AMHS that the KGB is no longer insistent that the property be used for wood products production. It is probably safe to say that the KGB felt very comfortable in selling to the state because the sale basically guarantees that quality jobs will be maintained and created in an industry that is in no way controversial. I agree.

My concern at this time is that the Borough is now considering the selling of the remaining 350 acres in Ward Cove to an entity that has yet to be the subject of any public awareness or public discussion. I have been told that the purchasing party, Hopen, intends on anchoring their profitability by the Plasmic Gasification of Garbage, an Alaskan Wildlife Park of sculptured animals made from used rubber tires, a bowling alley and cafeteria. Although I encourage entrepreneurism and ingenuity I, suggest that the sale of ANY parcel in Ward Cove be justified in part by the purchaser providing a viable business plan that will pass muster under the scrutiny of the Assembly, PLEADAC or some other community entity that has Ketchikan's economic development interests in mind. Each venture they propose should require a certain footprint so why can't they bid on these areas once the subdivision is in place?

The KGB has the opportunity to make decisions that will lead to economic development or to another quagmire of failures. Just because the KGB can divulge itself of the responsibility of owning Ward Cove by selling to some owner who does NOT have a viable business plan does NOT result in the best economic development future for our community. The original intent of the fed's $25,000,000 was for economic development. Just because we have had 11 years and business failures and foreclosures pass under the bridge does not change the original intent of the money..... economic development. Nor does the passage
of time excuse the Borough from deviating from the mandated intent of the funds for ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT. The KGB has Ward Cove in lieu of those funds and should be responsible to insure that any sale of land results in economic development based upon a viable business plan(s).

I contacted the proposed purchaser of Ward Cove one month ago to determine their intent with existing lease holders and they have made no reply. I have only to conclude that their intent is to either steal the business plans of present leaseholders to adopt as their own, raise the lease amounts to make up for the lack of profitability from other business activities or simply evict all tenants and start with a clean slate. None seems fair or justified. What do you think?

Rob Holston
Ketchikan, AK


Received September 07, 2010 - Published September 08, 2010


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