Raw human sewage is first priority

Letter to the editor

Posted: Wednesday, July 27, 2005

In respectful response to Deputy Mayor Marc Wheeler's July 24 letter pitching the "pool in the Valley" proposal and the "ten years of planning" that's gone into it, I'd make the following points:

The quoted 2004 League of Woman Voters survey didn't specify a graduated beach, "lazy river" or water slide to my recollection. They simply asked respondents to prioritize a recreational wish list.

The idea that child obesity is a problem is used to rationalize almost anything these days. The issue in Juneau isn't one of a lack of public facilities, and I don't feel any moral compulsion whatsoever to fund another one on that basis.

The JRC's pool idea get scotched to clear the way for this very expensive alternative. No doubt the "community center" will appeal to more people; it ought to, being as the tax-paying alternative was nixed for the tax consuming alternative. If you're new to this subject, that's $26 million of tax consumption at a minimum just to build the thing, with more annually to operate it.

Mr. Wheeler refers to the water park in Whitehorse, but doesn't mention the Canadian government provided the vast bulk of the funding. That won't be the case here, and years of our temporary sales tax revenues will be soaked up by it. Any other capital improvement you can think of will be adversely impacted.

I was flabbergasted that Mr. Wheeler referred to the $7.5 million the Assembly has tentatively earmarked for "sewer infill" does more than the borough has done in the last 10 years, as if that's something to brag about. Such fundamental, if not sexy, projects are the prime function of municipal government. The fact that it will "knock off the first four projects on the borough's list" doesn't mean there aren't a number of others that should come before something this expensive and optional.

Most importantly is how this ballot issue is written. I feel strongly that any project of this impact and expense should be by itself and not linked to anything else.

The majority of us, myself included, are willing to tax ourselves beyond our personal wants as long the goals are reasonable and not extravagant. As long as raw human sewage is running in North Douglas ditches, I'll consider this an extravagance.

Rick Kaufman


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