My turn: The heartbreak at DIPAC: fishing area is a hodgepodge

Posted: Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Reading the letter about the mess on Channel Drive with litter and waste prompts me to add my comments to the situation there.

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Five years ago, there was a ballot measure to extend the 1 percent sales tax to accomplish a bunch of projects. There was something for everybody. For fishing enthusiasts, a promise was made to vastly improve the fishing dock area near Douglas Island Pink and Chum's Gastineau Hatchery (and to vastly improve the Fish Creek Pond area as well). Here is what was promised for the DIPAC area:

1. Improved off-street parking.

2. A better fishing dock.

3. A public park area with restrooms.

4. A public boat launch.

What we got was a vastly messed up fishing area compared to what it used to be. Off-street parking could have been angled in to increase available parking spots; instead it is parallel parking with a totally useless two-spot "loading zone" far away from any access to the beach area below. Who would unload their fishing stuff there and have to carry it all the way to the end of the parking area to get down to the water? The previous parking area had stairs down to the beach and several foot trails down as well. Now, it's too dangerous to try to climb down a steep rock face in place.

The fishing dock is made so hefty you could tie up a small cruise ship there. The effect of all those tripod legs is to limit access to the area the fish are most likely to congregate. Hook a fish between the dock and shore and it's very likely it will head out to sea around those tripod legs and there is no way to follow it so it breaks off. The old dock had single pilings you could work your fishing rod around to follow a large fish that ran out to the channel. The public park area is hardly used at all. Are the restrooms even unlocked?

The boat launch is the most ridiculous looking unusable excuse for a launch ramp I have ever seen. Look for yourself... it ends parallel and adjacent to the shore and is mostly high and dry unless the tide is extremely high.

Fishing is pretty much centered on the ramp. A sign clearly says no fishing from ramp citing a city ordinance, yet nobody enforces it. Who is responsible for policing the area? The Alaska Department of Fish and Game? The Juneau Department of Parks and Recreation? Dock and harbor officials? They all claim it's the responsibility of the others. The result is what you see there. A perfectly great harvest area for us without boats has been ruined by poor design to begin with and lack of oversight today.

Oh, and Fish Creek pond? Finally, last summer TrailMix put some gravel over the muddy pathway around part of the pond. That's all. No improvement to parking lot, foot bridge, or fishing dock as promised.

• Larry Buzzell is a Juneau resident.

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