SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska



Opportunity presented
By John Stewart


November 24, 2005

I agree whole-heartedly with Pat Jirschele regarding the need for a plan "B" now that Ketchikan's bridge earmarks are gone from the transportation funds. Some may view this as being dealt a basket of lemons. I think it's an opportunity to make some very sweet lemonade.

We are perfectly poised to move substantially in the direction he points in his letter. We are already recognized by a high demographic group as a desirable place to build or buy a second home (within the top ten places in the country), we are a regional hub for commerce, industry, transportation, and medicine, the Borough owns about 12,500 acres of land held off the tax roles, we are also recognized for our vibrant arts community and as Pat mentioned, our proximity to vast national forest and hunting and fishing.

All of this would seem to beg for some simple access that could be provided by roads, ferry terminals, and water taxi landings at far less cost than a bridge. Unlike one expensive bridge, this sort of plan would provide the much needed multiple access corridors to open large tracts for sub-division and development and would still fit the requirements of a transportation project.

The surveying and parceling of Borough lands could be funded with revenue recovered from the Ward Cove debacle. The installation of water, waste and power could likely be funded by separate grants. Local talent is ready willing and able to do all types of the work required. Including the building of homes utilizing locally produced material, as in the case of at least one new downtown building.

The resulting parcels should be sold at cost with a covenant to build, within a reasonably constrained time period, a home or business not less than some pre-determined minimum. There should be a fazed penalty for not completing the requirements on one of these lots within the specified time.

Predictably, there will be an outcry of unfair by a few who will see this as competition for their own holdings. But that is a short- term view at best; one of the benefits would be less tax burden on the individual parcels making up the larger community. And it is the health and welfare of the larger community that should take precedence. This type of approach would involve everyone from laborers to bankers; the sand and gravel contractors, the pile bucks, all of the trades, surveyors, architects. All can be found locally.

I can easily imagine leaving my home on Pennock or Gravina islands and taking a water taxi into town for whatever business might be at hand. I can easily picture municipal harbors at Snows Cove, Baldheaded Cove, and Clam Cove from which to catch that taxi. I can envision driving from the ferry terminals to lakes and beaches that I've hiked or went to by boat. I can see tremendous opportunity if we can look forward and build on our attributes rather than attribute our future to a one and only project.

If anyone else has an opinion about this recipe, now would be a good time to start a dialog with our local representatives.

John Stewart
Ketchikan, AK - USA


Related Viewpoint:

letter The earmarks for the bridge are gone By Patrick Jirschele - Ketchikan, AK - USA


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and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Sitnews.


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Ketchikan, Alaska