SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


Library location, benches & homeless
By Carol Christoffel


December 31, 2007
Monday AM

As a former resident of Ketchikan, I follow events from time to time. I am frankly amazed at the possible location of the library to one of the steepest and most inaccessible areas of downtown. I also note, with some dismay, an INHOSPITABLE message being sent with the removal of library benches at the bus stop. I have noted that many people have defended the right of the citizens, including the homeless, to rest while waiting for the bus. What I have not noticed is any public response from elected City Council to these concerns.

I think Ketchikan needs to be asking WHAT'S IN IT FOR YOU/WHAT'S IN IT FOR ME questions of its city council. The first question is who stands to profit from this (who owns the land up the hill) and if this person is on the city council or has close relatives and financial gain from it, they must immediately disclose it and disqualify themselves from the issue. What becomes of the current land location? (Let me guess, an undisclosed investor group will add it into the Creek Street development?) Maybe I am just being cynical but I have a sneaking suspicion that someone stands to gain big time from locating the Library on top of that hill and it won't be the average person.

Tho some have issues with the homeless"loitering" in areas near the library, the removal of the benches also means the area is not very handicapped, elderly or disabled friendly. Is this the message Ketchikan wants to send? Then when you add in the lack of public transport to the top of the hill and the steep incline which makes pushing a wheel chair, walker, or cane a bit difficult, it is amazing to me that ANYONE would consider it! Certainly federal funding for public areas demands Handicapped Accessibility. How does a sharp incline meet these requirements?

As for the homeless, a few years our late, great President Kennedy declared "War On Poverty". Somehow we have moved towards a "war on the Poor". All over America, low income developments are replaced with pricey upscale condos etc. aimed at the middle class and upper middle class. This process known as "gentrification" is often seen as an "improvement"... except for one thing. The low income housing seldom gets replaced and the poor, most of whom are WORKING POOR. have a harder and harder time making ends meet and finding a space to rent. Right now, several years after Katrina, the New Orleans area has a homeless population of nearly 12,000 people, most of whom are WORKING, but can't make it on the low income and high rent.

In the Chicago area, long a strong real estate market, countless American families have lost their homes to foreclosure and are showing up at homeless facilities in record numbers. For the most part these folks did everything right but got caught in ever escalating banking schemes with their mortgages. Right now you'd have to give houses away as no one can afford to buy them.

Carol Christoffel
Chicago, IL

About: "Former Ketchikan resident."

Received December 30, 2007 - Published December 31, 2007


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Ketchikan, Alaska