Gold rush mentality

Posted: Friday, September 29, 2000

Juneau has had a couple of flightseeing-free days in the past week, and the silence has been deafening. The contrast in quality of life at my home on North Douglas could not be more pronounced. I have been keenly anticipating the end of the 2000 tourist season since early summer. This anticipation is due entirely to the constant din of helicopter and fixed-wing traffic that blankets the residential and business corridors during daylight hours. Tourist-related air traffic has shown steady and significant growth during my five years in Juneau. I hear the "Juneau din" in my home and at work. I hear it while hiking on the local trails. I am saddened to see the tourist season covering a larger portion of the calendar with each successive season. The local citizens can no longer claim any portion of the fairer months for their own.

I have a wonderful home and I love Juneau. I recognize the value of tourism to our local economy, however, if the current upward trend in flight traffic continues, unabated and unregulated, I will move my family out of town. I'm sure this statement will thrill the tourism-at-any-cost crowd, but how many families have to move away before you recognize our contribution to the local economy? How far does our basic quality of life have to fall before the CBJ Assembly and Destination Juneau recognize that, yes, there is a limit to how many tourists we can push through this town we call home.

I am unimpressed with the minimal "improvements" in noise reduction this year. It is true that some areas have benefited from the voluntary compliance and this is a positive step. It is important to note that some of the noise reduction we have experienced this year comes courtesy of weather-related no-fly days. Some neighborhoods have not seen any improvements resulting from voluntary compliance. Ask the folks who live and work between Bonnie Brae and Bartlett Hospital if they have noticed any noise abatement this year, and most will respond with a with a resounding NO!

We need to find balance. That balance can only be found by coming together as a community and hammering out a deliberate management plan. What we don't need is ongoing divisive debate and unfettered, unregulated growth.

We have a great resource here, but it is being cheapened and abused by the gold rush mentality. Remember that every gold rush in history has ended with a sudden and audible thud. When that happens, the silence will again be deafening.

Everett Hinkley


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