Goldbelt squandered its own resources

Posted: Friday, May 29, 2009

In his May 17 "My Turn" piece in the Empire, Gary Droubay, the president and CEO of Goldbelt, Inc., blamed the $50 per passenger cruise ship tax for the demise of a proposed $200 million development on the corporation's property in Hobart Bay. There have been stories in the Empire for years about the company's dream for this property. And certainly the proposal sounds good on paper. It's a remote Alaskan bay, completely owned and controlled by one company, with good docking potential. What could be wrong with that?

It only takes a quick flight to Hobart Bay to reveal the real problem. Unfortunately, earlier Goldbelt management teams had a different vision for Hobart Bay. I know this because I spent ten summers, from the mid '70s to the mid '80s, in Hobart and neighboring bays. While Hobart Bay used to be a pristine gem, famous for its fishing and wildlife, now it looks as though a bomb has gone off over it. Owning every acre of the land surrounding the bay, Goldbelt chose to log virtually every tree there.

So, sorry Goldbelt, Inc., neither Disney nor any of your other dream investors will build a tourist mecca for you in Hobart Bay. There is nothing to see there but eroded hillsides and stumps. For generations it will be a stark reminder to stockholders of the folly of development focused on short-term "profits".

James W. McGowan


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