More behind police station's history

Letter to the editor

Posted: Thursday, October 13, 2005

The editorial in Sunday's Empire regarding capital projects was generally good and well-intentioned but there was a serious historical error in the reference to the new Juneau Police station. The voters rejected the first police station proposal because it was to have been paid for through the property tax.

There was also inexplicable resistance from the neighborhood where the first proposal was located. (It was on the same parcel as the skateboard park near the loop and Egan intersection. The plan showed a vegetated buffer between the station and the first row of houses. Yes, the skateboard park could still have been built.)

As it turned out, the city had to buy private property and pay for the building through sales tax. It ended up costing at least one million dollars more than the original proposal, had fewer features and took three years longer to produce.

If there is a lesson in this, it might be that the city should have more legal leeway to "sell" a project. You might have noticed that the airport package received some last-minute support from the private sector but none at all from the city itself. That is because of legal limitations on the spending of public money for campaigns. We might be making better decisions, as voters, if we knew more about the discussions that caused capital projects to be placed on the ballot. We would also be better off if we get over this "let the tourists pay for it" attitude that was at the crux of the police station debate.

Murray R. Walsh


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