Uncertainty surrounds Douglas land deal

Posted: Tuesday, January 11, 2000

I'm a member of the here-to-fore ``silent majority'' in Douglas who is opposed to the proposed conveyance of land above Douglas to the Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority. As I now understand the proposal, it looks like a bad idea. The amount of land involved is huge; the size of ``south Douglas'' would more than double. Many of us who live in old Douglas love the sense of community in the older small homes, and the friendly neighborhoods. More high-density development like that between Douglas and the bridge would be an unwelcome change. More high-end-large-home-rich-people development would also be an unwelcome change.

But the point is, we don't know what would happen; we didn't have any input when the original deal with AMHTA was made. It is not enough to say that there will be plenty of time to comment when and if AMHTA proposes to develop the land. The AMHTA has a fiduciary duty to maximize income and value for its beneficiaries. It is its job to develop the land and increase its value. It is not, for example, an option for the AMHTA to decide the best use of the land would be open space. It is an option for the city. The city should go back to the drawing board and hold public hearings on which land, if any, to convey to AMHTA. An option that should be considered is to just pay AMHTA for the land the city wants, and not convey any land to the trust authority.

It may be that, after full discussion, the option chosen by the city will turn out to be the best. And it might even be that AMHTA would be happy with a couple of small units of small, single family homes commensurate with the flavor of downtown Douglas. But right now we're buying a pig in a poke, and I don't like it.

Deborah Vogt

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