WCA appealing to public for rental space
With less than four months remaining until the rededication of Shakes Island and the Chief Shakes Tribal House, the Wrangell Cooperative Association is at a make-or-break moment when it comes to housing a group of 1,000-plus guests and dignitaries who will visit the island May 3-4.
According to WCA Board of Directors member Ken Hoyt, a number of spaces have been filled, primarily by reserving nearly every room in the Stikine Inn, Diamond C Hotel, and Alaskan Sourdough Lodge, as well as a number of bed and breakfasts and private homes.
It’s still not enough, he said.
“We’re in the process of figuring out what we have and what we need to fill,” he said. “We’re trying to place the traditional dancers right now and we’ve run out of space for the moment. So, we’re looking for people who have rooms, couch space, campers or camping spaces or anything at this point. If you even have space to put up a tent we want to talk to you.”
Hoyt estimates that the WCA needs to fill at least 400 more spots in order to house the entire delegation, which will include dancers, members of the One People Canoe Society, and others who will be visiting the island.
While the festivities officially run May 3-4, Hoyt expects the major influx of guests to arrive on the Wednesday or Thursday before – and that will necessitate housing beginning on May 1, to run until May 5-6 depending on Alaska Airlines and Alaska Marine Highway System schedules.
“People will probably end up coming in on Wednesday or Thursday,” Hoyt added. “So we’re looking at 4 or 5 days of lodging, and these people will pay money for the spots.”
Lu Knapp, a member of the rededication’s housing committee, said anyone interested in housing guests should plan on renting their space out for rates equivalent to local hotels.
“Hotel-type rates should be considered,” Knapp said. “There are people out there who might have thought about renting out their space and I want to encourage them to call the WCA and confirm that they want to house people and can charge rate comparable to one of the local hotels.”
A request sent to Governor Parnell’s office by WCA to use a ferry vessel from the AMHS was declined earlier this year, with the Governor’s office providing a pair of reasons for the refusal.
“I have spoken with Captain Mike Neussl, Director of the Alaska Marine Highway System (AMHS), regarding your request to use an AMHS ferry for housing purposes during the event,” said Gov. Parnell’s Deputy Chief of Staff Randy Ruaro in a letter to WCA president Ernie Christian. “Unfortunately, there are significant reasons that this may not be a viable option.
According to Ruaro, the use of AMHS ferries for housing purposes have historically been for emergency services. Additionally, the uncertainty of the 2013 schedule at this time would contribute to the denial by AMHS.
“Given that this special interest request falls outside the scope of the mission of the Alaska Marine Highway System and the intended use of State ferries, we feel it is important to be conscientious and fair to other communities which have made similar requests and not had their requests accommodated,” the letter states.
In late August, WCA board member Tim Gillen requested additional ferry service to Wrangell be added in support of the event, as well as a possible discount for travelers coming to Wrangell.
The WCA is asking anyone who can provide housing to call 874-4304.