On Monday, the Ketchikan Gateway Borough Assembly affirmed its decision from two weeks ago to reject a rezone request for a section of Herring Cove.
Property owner Mike Jurczak was not able to attend the previous meeting, so the Assembly agreed to reconsider the decision. He said his proposal to open a small tourist shop on his property won’t make a difference to the congestion that Herring Cove experiences each summer.
“It’s not a residential neighborhood during these five months,” he said. “It’s a full-blown commercial operation. Every tour company in Ketchikan comes out and brings hundreds of thousands of people out in front of our home.”
Assembly Member Alan Bailey asked Jurczak whether the rezone, and the subsequent commercial business, would improve public safety.
Jurczak didn’t say whether it would help the problem, but, he said, it won’t make things worse. He said the tourists already hang around in front of his house all day, waiting to get back on their buses.
Jurczak said the visitor traffic affects his family, and tourists often knock on the door, hoping to use the bathroom. Sometimes, they use the bushes, instead. He was asked whether he would be willing to install a public restroom.
“I could put one. I probably should so they’re not banging on my door using my house,” he said. “My wife used to let them in and I put a stop to that. People would come with a real crybaby story and she would let them in my home. I finally said no more of that. It doesn’t stop. They’re still knocking on the door daily trying to use it.”
Paula Jurczak also spoke to the Assembly. She said the area already is a commercial zone in the summertime.
“The locally-owned buses, taxis and all them come out to Herring Cove and they operate commercial businesses in our low-residential neighborhood,” she said. “When the tourists get off the buses and before they get back on they are grouping up in our front yard and in front of our garage. Since commercial businesses can operate seasonal businesses in our front yard, we would like to be given the same opportunity to operate a seasonal shop in our garage.”
Later in the meeting, Assembly Member Bill Rotecki said the borough needs to plan better, and issues at Herring Cove are a good example.
“And that was my primary objection to approving their request,” he said. “Actually, I think that their request is a good idea, but I’d like us to plan for the neighborhood first.”
The motion to approve the rezone failed 3-4.
Also on Monday, the Assembly unanimously approved a first reading of an ordinance establishing a $1-per-day parking fee at the town-side airport parking lot. That lot historically has offered free parking, but after paving and other improvements, the borough decided to start charging.
Airport Manager Mike Carney said the new parking meters should help with parking congestion at the lot. Assembly Member Mike Painter agreed.
“Some people use the airport ferry parking lot as a park and ride. They use it as a used-car sale lot. So a dollar fee would probably discourage that type of activity,” he said.
A request for proposals went out April 10th for contractors to install a metered parking system. According to the borough, a contract likely will come to the Assembly at its next meeting. The pay stations should be ready for operation by July 1.
The next Ketchikan Gateway Borough Assembly meeting is May 6.