SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


Save Coast Guard Beach
By Eric Muench


December 09, 2010
Thursday AM

Coast Guard Beach is a 70 acre parcel near Point Higgins with open forest, the longest stretch of sandy beach along the Ketchikan road system, and ≤ mile of natural waterfront. It has been used for school camping trips, nature education and public recreation for generations. It is now under threat of being chopped up.

Borough public, Planners and Assembly have, for 34 years, recognized the uniqueness of Coast Guard Beach by creating a goal in the Comprehensive Plan for its dedication to public recreation. But now the Alaska Mental Health Trust has applied to rezone the entire parcel to Low Density Residential which could result in 100 to 150 house lots and no public spaces at all except for the subdivision streets. Incredibly, Borough staff has written a flawed analysis recommending approval, seeming to have the mistaken impression that the land is private and can be used for any purpose its managers want.

That is wrong. Coast Guard Beach is not private land. It does not belong to the Alaska Mental Health Trust or to its personnel. And its administrators do not have the right to use it any way they wish. Coast Guard Beach is public land belonging to the State of Alaska, of which its administrators are employees. It is in a special category of State land dedicated to raising revenue for mental health services, so it is a special interest, a worthy one, but not one which can take precedence over an important public interest. The Trust has a right to generate revenue from the land but not to any zoning or development plan it chooses. By denying this rezone the Borough can put the Trust on notice that it should make its needed revenue by planning with the Borough for acquisition using some of the available Federal, State, local and private funding sources dedicated to wildlife and open space preservation. Both the public and the Trust can benefit from that.

The Planning Commission will hear this request on December 14. Please contact the Planning Commission and come to the rescue of Coast Guard Beach.

Eric Muench
Ketchikan, AK

About: "An almost a 50 year resident of the Ketchikan area and a citizen who wants to see valuable public land remain open to the public"

Received December 07, 2010 - Published December 09, 2010



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