Letters – Jan. 16

Good concept, bad proposed implementation

I am a proponent of bringing natural gas to Homer, mainly because of the environmental benefits. However, in the absence of a long-term gas contract and projected shortages, be prepared for the very real possibility of substantial price hikes. You can bet that with huge potential profits to be reaped in Asia and Europe, our gas will be liquefied and exported.
I also believe the City Council is taking the proper action by proposing a city wide distribution system. I do not, however, accept the premise of Resolution 12-069 “The Council finds that the natural gas distribution system will benefit equally all parcels of real property in the City that will receive access to natural gas service through the construction of the natural gas distribution system, and that all parcels so benefited should be assessed equally for the cost of the natural gas distribution system….”
How can that vacant lot down the street possibly incur the same benefits that a $5.5 million property such as Land’s End Resort will enjoy? The only similarity is that both parcels will be assessed $3,283.30 to build the system. Is it possible that any Homer homeowner will benefit, for example, to the extent that the $4.2 million Safeway corporate property will enjoy? I think not! An analogy to the current Council approach would be if all property owners were required to pay for a slip in the harbor at one set price, regardless if they owned a boat or not, and regardless if the vessel was a 12-foot dingy or a 120 foot mega-yacht.
A disproportionate share of the expense of the distribution system, as proposed, is being placed on non-commercial property owners. A much more equitable method would be to prorate each of the 3,855 properties by Borough assessed values. While this may not be the perfect solution it is likely that there is a correlation between property values and benefit derived from access to the gas.
If you want natural gas, but think the Homer City Council should require large businesses to foot their fair share of the distribution system, I urge you to send in your objection to the City Clerk before Jan. 25.
Doug Van Patten

Gun control advocates promote perspective

Several weeks ago Jay Marley, in response to the Connecticut school-shooting massacre, wrote about the second amendment, the citizen’s right to bear arms. In general, he seems to want greater restrictions applied to those rights. I disagree with several of his contentions and support others, but my comments today are directed towards the immediate and seemingly instinctive response commonly resorted to by gun-control advocates in response to these situations.
Typically, they immediately argue for more laws to further restrict citizen access to firearms. The justification for these new laws almost always seem to reflect only one perspective – theirs. And therein lies the problem. Every unilateral attempt to impose by force (government) a behavior upon a large and resistant segment of our society, holding an opposing and equally viable perspective, will inevitably fail in its ultimate purpose.
Indeed, like the Newtonian third law of motion, equal and opposite reaction, it invariably generates the opposite effect. In this case, threats to further restrict future firearms ownership have created a stampede of anxious self-defense oriented law-abiding citizens into the nearest gun store. The end result being more armed citizens, more guns, an enhanced gun industry and a stronger gun lobby.
It seems evident that if you can’t continue a dialogue with the loyal opposition, if you haven’t convinced them with arguments written by the pen, but try to compel their behavior anyway, then they will reach for the gun.
Larry Slone

Bigs thank you

For National Mentoring Month, Big Brothers Big Sisters would like to thank the following businesses who provided 2-for-1 discounts to our Bigs and Littles when they met for mentoring activities during 2012:
Jelly Beans Ice Cream and Gifts, Homestead Restaurant, Fresh Sourdough Express Bakery, Cosmic Kitchen, Land’s End Resort, Two Sisters Bakery, Homer Bookstore, Boss Hoggz, Boardwalk Bakery, Tangles Hair Salon, Homer Theatre, Homer Shotokan Karate Club, Damselfly Hair Salon, Pratt Museum, True North Kayaking, Ashore Water Taxi, Pier One, Homer Council on the Arts, and Bunnell St. Arts Center. We appreciate their continued support of mentoring in our community.
Jenny Martin, program specialist,
Big Brothers Big Sisters

Road Improvements

Doing real estate for going on 10 years now, I’m constantly asked about road rights-of-way, easements this and easements that, about ingresses and egresses, and quite simply, “How Do we get there from here?” Paved road, gravel road, unmaintained trail or just plain buckwhacking.
The first aboriginal peoples here, walked the beaches and paddled their bidarkas. Food was plentiful and close to shore. Then the white anglo saxons arrived and had to have horses. Being taller than the height of a bear’s back at full gallop, they had to develop trails. Then they had to have roads when they wanted to use a wagon to take out the valuable stuff so they could make the big bucks. They brought in wives and furniture and built civilized habitations. A teamster was someone who worked a team of horses, mules, or oxen and generally slept under the wagon when the weather was good. When the government got involved they had to tax us to pay the guys to make the roads better.
Homer has records of trails that went from the head of the bay up to Tustumena Lake, then to Seward. Yule Kilcher came that way when he came from Switzerland because he wanted to save the money for the boat fare from Seward to Seldovia, then the biggest city this side of Juneau. When I moved here in 1976 the road down from Anchorage was a two lane potholed mess. Whenever I complained about it some old timer would pipe up, “You should have been here when it took 9 hours in an army sx-by-sixes.” So the stories would start, North Fork Road and what we now call Old Sterling Highway were muddy, uncontrolled messes. Kids used to walk five miles to the “road” to get to school. East End Road would be lost out by Miller’s Landing. A modified Volkswagon would ferry kids and groceries across the mudhole. I remember when Diamond Ridge got lost under six feet of snow for a week, and one family came into town on a dog sled made out of black PVC pipe. The names of the streets even found amusement at the situation, Try Again, and Lucky Shot are two that come to mind.
So, over the years the state, the borough, and now the city do what they can to keep traffic moving, working within the budgets they are handed. Even if it means calling out the boys on a Christmas holiday to work through a blizzard. Things gradually have gotten better over the years. As more roads get paved, it frees up equipment to work harder on the remaining gravel roads. Down by the new dog pound is an old horse drawn road grader refitted to be drawn by a tractor or dozer.
Sometimes who maintains this road or that comes into question from different members of the public. The different agencies try to overlap services rather underlap; that’s kind of a pun, but would leave kind of a hole in the narrative if I didn’t say it. Get it? Pioneer Avenue is actually part of the Sterling Highway, and is maintained by the state, but the city clears the snow. (The Sterling Highway got its name because the old road ended at Sterling.)
I recently heard rumors some guys wanted to drive down Pioneer Avenue in the middle of winter in their swim trunks with hot lattes held between their legs. Maybe their convertible took a wrong turn coming out of Miami. In Los Angles, five lanes of traffic go in each direction, and as often as not is not moving at all. Maybe these guys could go down there and drink their lattes while they wait for the traffic to get moving.
So however you move down Homer’s cosmic lanes, by foot, bicycle, auto ricksaw, or multi horse powered machinery, be grateful to the boys in the trenches slurping hot coffee out of thermoses, in the middle of the night and eating those stale turkey sandwiche. Thanks to them, you are still able to get the kids to school safely, and Grandma to the hospital if she needs to go.
I’ll keep a candle in the window if you’re headin’ out the trail to my place.
Ken Bergman

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Posted by on Jan 16th, 2013 and filed under Letters to the Editor. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

1 Response for “Letters – Jan. 16”

  1. Bruce Hess says:

    Doug, After reading your letter and your idea of assessments by Borough assessed value rather than by each lot it sounded like a good idea but then I couldn’t see how this approach would work if major improvements that greatly raised borough assessment is done right after the distribution assessments were complete. For example what if a property owner was assessed on raw land than turned around a built a $500,000 house on the lot. The point is all plans have some deflects but one thing that cannot be disputed and that is the long term economic benefits to the community that will come with getting natural gas. Whatever makes this happen I’ll be in favor of.

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