Avoid heliport presumptions

Posted: Friday, July 05, 2002

The Assembly is considering adoption of the Juneau Draft Tourism Management Plan. I object to statements in the draft plan that a heliport will be built in the Thane area. On page 65, the plan states that "The first phase will involve development of a new heliport south of Juneau, probably in the vicinity of Dupont or Sheep Creek." It is premature for the Assembly to make a decision that an alternative heliport will be constructed in the area of Thane, and it is inappropriate to make this decision through a planning document like the tourism management plan. A decision to develop alternative heliport sites should be made only after more information is available about what will be needed at these sites, the costs, and the impacts on Thane residents. Therefore, the Assembly should remove the definitive statements about the southern heliport sites from the tourism plan and first undertake the analysis necessary to make such an important decision.

Thane residents live with the impacts of the growth in cruise ship tourism every day from May through September because we have to drive through downtown and deal with the unsafe traffic conditions and the congestion. I am very concerned that we will now have to live with the negative impacts of having a heliport located in our neighborhood. A heliport at either Sheep Creek or Dupont would negatively impact Thane residents and the neighborhood. Sheep Creek would be destroyed as a recreational area during the summer due to the constant noise from the heliport. The Dupont site would require widening of Thane Road through the residential area and extension of the road to Dupont. Both sites would result in an increase in commercial bus and employee traffic that would forever change this rural neighborhood.

Unfortunately, I cannot just move on if the quality of life in Thane deteriorates. My family has lived out here for almost 50 years. My husband and I built a house on land we bought from my parents. We live next door to my father, three of my brothers, their wives, and children. We have an emotional and financial commitment to this neighborhood and we cannot just leave if we don't like the changes that would come with a heliport.

Sally Bibb


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