Wrangell needs to exercise more control over large cruise ships

The Sept. 20 article in the Wrangell Sentinel made it clear that the community of Wrangell has been infected with cancer. “Dam” cancer to be exact. That being the Nieuw Amsterdam and the Westerdam, along with accompanying disease names the Queen Elizabeth, the Ruby Princess and Grand Princess.

Not too long ago the people of Wrangell rejected the idea of turning the former sawmill site into some type of tourist-related mecca. Who gave this upcoming plague permission to infect Wrangell?

Were our community leaders contacted? The mayor? The assembly? The economic development director? Was there any input from community members? Or did they just decide to show up because they thought they could? Maybe Homer and Haines rejected them. Why didn’t Wrangell? It’s certainly not up to me to decide, but somehow, someway the community should have a say since our leaders did not.

They sent their first invader here last month. They have tried or succeeded in booking rooms for employees here for the summer. Probably van or bus drivers so they can conduct their own tours. This thing will metastasize. Wait until their vans or buses show up on the barge. If you are a local tour operator, you better get on top of the upcoming situation. They will once again be looking for buildings to buy.

So often it appears that the Alaska summer is for tourists and not for the residents who anxiously wait for it. I have lived and worked in many areas of Alaska, and it is always the same story. More, more, more. Yes, Wrangell needs some tourism, but these companies are big boys and bullies, relentless, overbearing and only interested in their bottom line. Besides, can this community really handle these numbers?

Maybe we can copy what I witnessed in Stika this summer and barricade the streets so the town can be inundated. I happened to be there on the day 9,000 tourists came to town. What a mess. A beautiful place turned ugly. I understand there might be a measure on their ballot to cut back the numbers. Good luck.

Having 2,000 people enter Wrangell is roughly equivalent to 9,000 in Sitka due to the difference in size between the two towns. Of course, they all would not come at once, but how many is too many?

Are the following places capable of handling a huge influx of people? Rainbow Falls, Petroglyph Beach, Nolan Center Museum, Front Street, Anan and the river leading to the glacier.

I also learned in Sitka that their SEARHC hospital is often strained and/or overcrowded due to tourist injuries and diseases, and that shoplifting is common with these large, reduced-price cruise ships.

As of now, there is no local control.

John Bania


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