Empire misses the boat

Letter to the editor

Posted: Monday, February 28, 2005

The Empire's opinion that the road will flood the city with what it cannot handle says little for the vitality of its citizens. "Thousands of RVs," "...demand for limited property," "...little to add to our lives...," sound more like Chicken Little than the flagship journal of Juneau's marketplace for discussion.

The Empire doesn't believe the people of Juneau have the intellectual and creative wherewithal to rise to the invigoration of their community that this economic and social artery will generate. It will cost too much, the paper says, something the individual citizens, particularly of modest means, who could then afford travel with their families might differ with. The Empire appoints itself spokesman for everyone in Juneau when it reduces this impulse to merely something that reduces the cost of golfing in Whitehorse. An argument so specious and insulting, the paper should print an apology.

It will bring a flood of RVs to clog the city streets, they say. Aren't these RVs independent travelers, the category most prized over the masses brought ashore by cruise ships? Don't they stay longer and spend more per person than cruise ship passengers? Aren't their numbers more easily assimilated? Does the Empire believe RV is spelled with four letters? One wonders.

High land and housing prices, they say, make new development impractical. There are thousands of acres of undeveloped land in the city's possession. Only the will to use them and the desire to see Juneau become a vital, needed, and desired destination for economic renewal is required of her citizens.

When the railroads pushed west, the Empire might have thought no one would want to travel to such barren and dangerous country. When the interstate highway system began, the Empire would have questioned the need and spoken harshly of something designed to benefit trucking companies, asking why the railroads weren't sufficient. And now the possibility of opening Juneau's doors for its citizens and to those who would come with their energy and optimism seem just too much pain for the Empire to bear. Gloom and doom seems the only outcome they can foresee. Such myopia and negativity are not the qualities of which editorial leadership are made.

The old saying says, "Either lead, follow, or get out of the way." Until the Empire can improve its dim and narrow vision, perhaps they should just get out of the way.

Jim Collard


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