Back to the drawing board

Posted: Wednesday, May 29, 2002

One thing baffles me about the heliport debate. All parties seem to agree that flightseeing noise is a serious problem. So, rather then simply relocating the problem from North Douglas to the Thane neighborhood, as the Assembly currently proposes, wouldn't it make sense to reduce the source of the problem? Why is the alternative of reducing helicopter and floatplane flightseeing operations off the table? As any good physician would do, let's focus on curing the disease not just the symptoms.

While leaders like City Manager Palmer may think that Thane is a good site since there are fewer people living here than in other areas of Juneau, I expect better leadership that is based more than just on how many people live in an area. And the Thane sites wouldn't even do much to solve the problem. The upper Sheep Creek could only be used half the time due to weather, the Lower Sheep Creek site would actually increase noise for some Thane residents, while neither of these sites nor the Dupont site would accommodate the three other helicopter companies besides Era nor float planes, which appear to be the main problem.

The Assembly needs to go back to the drawing board and do a proper analysis of all alternatives, including various heliport sites, reduced flights, use of different routes and quiet technology.

Chris Zimmer


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