Public perceptions of capital projects

Letter to the editor

Posted: Tuesday, October 11, 2005

The Sunday editorial on city capital improvement projects made a bit of sense, but I believe that it missed the mark on what residents really would like presented when projects are proposed. Of course, everyone has a concern for the need and general cost of a capital project funded by taxes, but I believe many people are also looking at how operational costs of the city and individuals will be affected once a project is completed.

Basically, people want a business plan for the activities related to the project. Wal-Mart planners certainly had to do an extensive analysis why taking on a new store in Juneau was good for the company and had to sell it to management. I'm sure they had to show that the likelihood of profitability was almost certain. No less should be expected of the city. With the population differences between Petersburg and Juneau, who is to say that the price of the pool proposed for Juneau was too much? There just was insufficient information to show the likelihood of success, success being defined as little impact to the operating budget of the city and reasonable costs to users of the facility.

The building of the ice rink in Douglas is probably the best project to use for demonstration of what needs to be done. There was a long history of private efforts to get an ice skating facility. Being private, business plans were developed and redeveloped over the years until finally, one that involved a minimal ongoing city support proved feasible. My only surprise on that project was that it didn't happen in the valley, a more feasible location for justifying the project. It just goes to show you what grassroots hard work and dedication can do to sell a project. I'm sure that there must be some astute business savvy valley residents that have the inspiration to determine a feasible indoor recreational facility that can be supported in that area.

Richard Renninger


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