There have been a lot of comments about privatizing Eaglecrest lately. I am disappointed to note that those who advocate doing this seem to link their suggestions to negative feelings about the city subsidizing the ski area. I, too, would like to see the city consider privatizing Eaglecrest, but my reasoning is very positive. I think Eaglecrest is a wonderful asset to our community. I don't ski, but I am happy to have my taxes support it if that is the only way to keep it operating. I think that Eaglecrest has much more potential, however, than we can afford to develop with our tax dollars. That's where privatization becomes an option.
If the city were to sell or lease Eaglecrest and some of the surrounding land to an enterprising developer, perhaps we could have a full scale lodge where skiers could rent modest rooms or stay in dorms for the weekend. Maybe cabins or small condos could be available for seasonal or (even year-round) occupancy. A private developer might have the incentive to promote the ski area throughout the region, encouraging visitors from other Alaskan communities to come to Juneau to ski instead of taking their business to Canada, Utah, Colorado or Idaho. This would bring the kind of visitors that we love to see: the ones who stay a while, spend some money and have fun - and come back again. A private operator might find a way to turn a profit in the summer, too, by having a good restaurant, nature hikes, rides on the chair lift, etc. for cruise passengers. This is one of the few cases in which beefing up things for visitors would actually benefit local residents. Think about it.
Phyllice Bradner Matson
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