We are being swapped and sold down the river. It is time to write and call all the assembly members and the mayor.
It is in the works for the city to swap large acreage of land behind 5th Street in Douglas. This swap has come about because the city wanted to keep the National Guard in town and wanted land at 7 Mile to build a new armory. This land is Alaska Mental Health Trust land. In return for this land for the armory, the city agreed to give the mental health trust a choice of land in various places in Juneau and Douglas. Of the several sites to choose from another was/is at Lena Point. The mental health trust chose the Douglas site because of its development potential. The trust can cut the timber and then sell the land to a developer or sell the land as is to a developer.
There are two options to keep the Douglas land from being developed. First, the Assembly can remove the Douglas site from the list of land choices. However, this would force the mental health trust to choose land in somebody else's backyard. That is not a viable or fair option.
The reasonable thing to do is to pay the mental health trust the price of the land the city purchased for the armory. The amount is approximately $900,000. This may seem like a significant sum, however, the city paid $4 million for the land at Lena Point for the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration facility. Nine hundred thousand dollars seems a small amount in order to keep the forest above Douglas intact. Imagine, if you will, how unsightly it would be to have those trees cut. Imagine the stream degradation. Imagine the flooding problems for those in Douglas, West Juneau and North Douglas. Imagine how it will change the character of the quaint little town of Douglas. It does not take much to envision how this will impact and alter Douglas. Just look out your window and see how much West Juneau has changed in the last two years.
The planning commission just approved the land swap and now it goes before the assembly for approval.
If we are blind, it is because the two have kept us in the dark about this impending land swap. It is important to let your voice be heard.
The assembly will soon vote on and possibly (probably) finalize this land swap unless you speak up. If the assembly approves this swap, our environment will be out of our control. Now is the time to let the assembly know they cannot trade or sell our environment without our notification and approval.
Rebecca Lee Yates