Harebrained proposal

Posted: Thursday, April 18, 2002

I object strenuously to locating a heliport at Sheep Creek, Dupont or anywhere in the Thane neighborhood area. It is a terrible idea because of the narrow road, the negative effects on one of the most peaceful neighborhoods in Juneau - Thane - and the likely high cost to the public.

I am nervous just driving past the school bus due to the skinny lanes now; a fleet of commercial tourist buses poses grave danger to other drivers plus bicyclists, runners, walkers and their dogs who use Thane Road. Widening the road would be very expensive for Juneau and would impact property owners along Thane.

Extending the road out to Dupont is a bonehead idea. This trail and the Dupont beach has been traditionally used by non-commercial recreationists as well as independent travelers for many years. The use of Dupont Beach for such purposes would be ruined by the helicopter operations. Constructing such a road would be extremely expensive. Is this how we want to use limited city funds given that our schools and police are currently underfunded?

The real problem is that summertime helicopter volumes in the Juneau area are outrageously high. With more than 15,000 landings annually, Juneau has the second or third highest volume helicopter tourism in the United States. The volume of helicopter traffic should be reduced from 2001 levels. Why hasn't the Assembly addressed this fundamental issue? Putting an Era heliport in Thane wouldn't even solve much of the noise problem since there are still three other helicopter companies plus fleets of floatplanes that would not use the Thane site. The bottom line is that a Thane heliport would be expensive, would fundamentally and negatively change the character of Thane and would do little to address Juneau's overall flightseeing noise problem.

I urge the Assembly to consider the needs of residents in all neighborhoods, as well as wildlife in the Sheep Creek backcountry, the road safety factors, traditional non-commercial recreational use of Dupont, and the full financial costs of the proposed Thane site. Drop this harebrained proposal.

Katya Kirsch


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