My turn

Taku Lodge can't survive Proposition 5

Posted: Monday, September 25, 2000

Our family, friends and employees have watched the flightseeing initiative develop over the past several months. It was sold to Juneau voters primarily as something that would stop the unregulated growth of the helicopter industry. We believe that those who sponsored this initiative and some who signed the petition may not be aware of the devastating effect this initiative would have on our family business.

In 1993, our first year of operating Taku Glacier Lodge, 14,142 locals and visitors enjoyed this unique wilderness experience. That year, Wings of Alaska flew 1,996 flights off the downtown waterfront to bring these visitors to us. Prior to 1993, because of the smaller and noisier aircraft used, the previous owner logged over 2,800 flights annually to the Lodge.

In 2000, approximately 14,000 visitors will enjoy the lodge experience and there will be approximately 2,000 flights to the lodge off the downtown waterfront.

The point we would like everyone to understand is that we have worked hard to maintain an exclusive tour to this historic sight. It is only available to a limited number of people each summer and we have not attempted to increase the number of visitors to the lodge. In fact, we have actually decreased our numbers by a potential 50 visitors a day. We did this in 1997 by leaving one hour later in the morning and returning one hour earlier in the afternoon.

We will continue to do everything possible to preserve the scenic beauty and solitude established over the last 75 years.

How does Proposition 5 hurt the lodge?

There would be no sales to any ships with a Saturday arrival.

Due to the curfew and the length of the lodge experience, we would not be able to offer the tour to any ships arriving at 1 p.m. or later.

By delaying the first departure in the morning and eliminating the last departures of the day, the curfew will additionally restrict lodge sales to all remaining ships from five tours to only three.

If Proposition 5 passes, we stand to lose 50 percent of our business. We can't ask our employees to take half pay and we doubt our bank will reduce our loan payments. Can we survive this initiative? We don't think we can.

As life-long residents of Juneau, we understand the frustration many people feel about noise. This initiative is not the way to deal with it. All parties must be willing to work together for a negotiated solution that does not put people like us out of business.

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