Stop polarizing

Posted: Sunday, August 19, 2001

Enough already. It's time for local pro-development interests and the publisher of Juneau's only newspaper to stop dividing the community into "good guy developers" and "bad guy environmentalists."

If the session or the capital moves it will have little to do with our internal concerns over whether to build the road or to support mining and logging. Dividing the community certainly will not help the citizens of Juneau pull together to fight the capital move.

I am also puzzled by the assertion that Juneau would somehow be a more supportable capital city if we had built the pulp mill in Berner's Bay, built the mine in downtown Juneau, and angered the citizens of Skagway and Haines by forcing through a road that they strongly and publicly opposed. If the pulp mill had been built it would recently have gone out of business along with the mills in Sitka and Ketchikan, leaving behind vast clear cuts all over northern Southeast Alaska, polluted waters in Echo Cove and Berner's Bay, a defunct mill town at the end of the road and economic devastation for all of the mill workers and the businesses that would have grown up to support them.

If Echo Bay had started building the mine in downtown, it likely now would be out of business or on hold like most of Echo Bay's other holdings. Miners would be out of work and many Juneauites would be wondering what was going to happen to all of the cyanide that would have been brought to town.

Last year more than half the residents of Juneau voted against the road. I voted with them because I do not see how Juneau can deal with the multitude of Winnebagos and other vehicles that would travel down the road and right into the center of town where there is no room for them. The possibility that we might somehow be more accessible to Alaskans wanting to visit the capital during the legislative session, even though the road would likely be closed or dangerous to travel during the session did not, in my opinion, outweigh the negative impacts of the road on Juneau and the bad will it would have generated in Haines and Skagway.

And please, leave the pro-development, hysteria-mongering rhetoric out of the future editorials. Juneau has a healthy economy and a lot of people who like the present pace of life here. To say that Juneau has an "anti-business reputation that is hurting the value of our homes and businesses and will deny all of our children the ability to make a living in Juneau" is ludicrous and untrue. The value of my home has been doing quite well, my children and their friends have found work here just fine and the overall business is certainly doing a lot better than when I moved here in 1972.

Steve Zimmerman


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