The City and Borough of Juneau's Docks and Harbors department has issued a public survey as they consider improvements to the North Douglas Boat Launch Ramp, seen here on Aug. 18, 2021. (Michael S. Lockett / Juneau Empire)

Opinion: Criticism of North Douglas ramp improvements unwarranted and unfair

“In its present state, it is an accident waiting to happen.”

  • Thursday, September 2, 2021 1:44pm
  • Opinion

By Scott Spickler

A recent My Turn by Margo Waring alleges that the Docks and Harbor staff and board members operate in a vacuum. That is inaccurate in my opinion.

I have used the North Douglas boat launch ramp for about 37 years and have been a proponent for safety improvements there for at least 25 of those years. In its present state, it is an accident waiting to happen. In fact, my wife and I witnessed a truck and trailer pulling out of the parking lot onto the highway right in front of a bicyclist that then crashed into the side of the vehicle. Because of inadequate parking, on most weekends, users are forced to park along both sides of the highway, which limits visibility for everyone.

Clients of the commercial kayak operation out there often wander behind boats and trailers trying to back up, another accident waiting to happen. The Docks and Harbors proposed project would alleviate this problem by moving the kayakers away from the new ramp.

I commend the harbor department for doing its research and providing schematics for solutions to accommodate the growing demand that users have witnessed for years. Their current proposal addresses much of the problem by having two launch ramps and increased parking. Perhaps a possible land swap could provide additional parking across the highway to help discourage trailers and trucks from parking alongside the road.

Several years ago, I recall Waring excoriating Docks and Harbors for considering lighting and security cameras at the ramp. This was proposed for safety reasons and to minimize vandalism. Her opposition was to the “light pollution” that would impact her view from her home – a mile away and tucked into the trees. Her My Turn stated that the area is the most heavily used waterfront in Juneau, which may be true. This is why people live here — so we can get outdoors and on the water whenever we can. So why not improve a 30-plus-year old facility to make it safer and more user-friendly?

The Docks and Harbors staff and board members should be applauded for taking a serious look at safety improvements at the North Douglas ramp. I am optimistic they can secure funding for this much-needed project to make it a reality for future generations to enjoy. This is exactly the type of “government” I expect and appreciate from our CBJ Harbor Board – devoting time and resources making recreation safer, less stressful and more enjoyable for everyone.

• Scott Spickler is a Juneau resident, business owner and regular user of the North Douglas Boat Ramp. Columns, My Turns and Letters to the Editor represent the view of the author, not the view of the Juneau Empire. Have something to say? Here’s how to submit a My Turn or letter.

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