Dedicate funds for Juneau harbors

Letter to the editor

Posted: Thursday, April 14, 2005

Ben Brown's My Turn was an interesting perspective on Eaglecrest Ski Area. While I agree with most of what he wrote, I believe the same things can be said for our small boat harbors.

I have had a stall in the Douglas Harbor for more than 30 years and have watched children swim and fish, kayakers use the launch ramps, people walk their dogs (usually leaving their calling cards) and a lot of folks just out for a stroll, enjoying the facilities. The point is, everyone uses the harbors at one time or another. That begs the question, why do the stall owners pay 100 percent of maintaining, upgrading, and expansion of the harbors? In all fairness, that should not be the case.

The Augustus Brown swimming pool is subsidized with more than $400,000 a year with taxpayer money. The Bartlett Regional Hospital expansion is funded 50 percent with tax dollars. The airport is asking for 50 percent taxpayer funding for its expansion. And of course, there is Eaglecrest and the Treadwell Arena. And now the city wants to build a recreation center in the Valley for $30 million. How much are we going to subsidize the operation and maintenance of that endeavor?

The boat harbors are just as much an integral part of this community as these other borough operations, yet, the costs are funded strictly by the stall owners, even though they are used by anyone that doesn't have a stall, at no cost to them. Where is the equity in that? I am also dumbfounded that after all the discussion about the shortage in funds for maintenance, the harbor board buys DeHart's Marina for a couple of million dollars. If we had the funds to do that, why the 250 percent increase in stall rent?

With the sales tax coming up for renewal, I believe this is an opportune time to set aside 1 percent to be dedicated to the enterprise funds so that the costs are shared by everyone. We are all in this together. Just think at what the user fees would be at Eaglecrest, Augustus Brown, Treadwell Arena, and the softball fields, if they had to be supported strictly by the users. It's way past time that our Assembly looked at these recreational facilities for what they are and how they are funded. In short, how about a little fairness.

John Niemi


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