I would like to thank Assembly Member Jim Powell for standing up for a comprehensive and collaborative public process to solve our flightseeing noise issue. His vote at Monday's Policy and Planning Committee meeting to remove language in the Draft Tourism Plan which calls for a heliport site at Sheep Creek or Dupont helps set a standard for how this issue should be dealt with.
I also urge other members, including Ken Koelsch, Randy Wanamaker and Dale Anderson (all three who voted to keep the Thane heliport language in the Draft Tourism Plan) to reconsider their votes. You still have a chance to stand up for a better public process and set a good precedent for dealing with issues like tourism.
So far the process has been driven at a ridiculously fast track by the Assembly without adequate consideration of alternatives to a Thane site.
This issue is important to more than just Thane residents. All Juneau citizens should be concerned about a process that so far has been narrowly focused, has not included stakeholders at the table, has not looked at a comprehensive set of solutions and that treats a neighborhood as expendable. This is a very dangerous precedent.
The proposed Juneau Tourism partnership could be a much better vehicle for addressing flightseeing noise, if it has the proper collaboration, stakeholders and facilitation. Voting to keep the Thane heliport language in the Draft Tourism Plan unfairly ties the hands of the JTP as it would prevent them from developing an adequate set of alternatives for dealing with flightseeing noise and would force them to focus on Thane even if the JTP's analysis concludes that other options are better.
The next vote will be Monday, July 8. It will have important ramifications for flightseeing noise, the Thane neighborhood and how similar issues throughout Juneau will be dealt with in the future. I urge our Assembly members to support good public process and adequate analysis by voting to remove the Thane language from the Draft Plan.