Make the tourism industry pay Juneau

Posted: Friday, November 23, 2007

We had good news and bad news on the front page of the Nov. 18 edition of the Empire.

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Congratulations to Gov. Sarah Palin for getting her oil tax bill passed, and thank you to the Legislature that finally came to its senses. The bad news is the article about the proposed expansion of the downtown docks to accommodate the new Panamax ships. These ships are obscene.

I have been a Juneau resident for 27 years and it seems to me that last summer was a tilting point in the ability of Juneau to absorb all the people coming off cruise ships. There were regularly six large ships and two smaller ones in port daily. Downtown was unnavigable even by foot. There was much more tour bus traffic, including many new types and colors of companies I had never seen before. Many ship passengers use our community Capital Transit buses for "tours," often crowding buses to the point of passing up locals who depend on them for transportation, passing up stops because they were so crowded with cheap tourists.

The human environment in Juneau is very important to me - that's why I moved here. Now I'm here almost half the year (the best half). I am reluctant to even go outside to enjoy the town and the biking lanes and hiking trails.

Why are we letting cruise industry-owned stores which have nothing to do with our history overrun downtown all summer and leave it boarded up the rest of the year while they take the money they earned here elsewhere?

I think that perhaps we should set up a type of permanent fund from the tourist industry to pay compensation to those of us who do not benefit monetarily from it, but do have our lifestyle and environment ruined from May through September.

Alaskans, especially in Southeast, should think about what is truly important about living here. I bet there are others who feel as I do. Please speak up.

Lauren M. Swift


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