Each year, tourists and seasonal employees arrive in Skagway during the summer season. The influx of people illuminates the town’s housing crunch. Now, the Skagway Assembly is considering whether a new seasonal campground could help alleviate those housing woes.
“We’re going to have worse and worse housing problems,” said Assemblyman Orion Hanson at a meeting on February 1. “When we say we don’t want a tent city, we’re going to have it. And if we don’t control it, it’s going to be everywhere we don’t want it. It’s going to be in our backyards, all over town, and I think we already know that.”
Hanson is the assembly liaison to the planning and zoning commission. He said, that group has been brainstorming different locations for a seasonal campground to help deal with housing issues.
He said, there aren’t a lot of options.
One that’s been raised, is a 15-acre parcel owned by the municipality on the Klondike Highway, near the turnoff to Dyea Road.
“That’s probably something that would not have water or sewer,” said Hanson. “It could potentially have electric. But I don’t even know if it would have to have that.”
But Mayor Monica Carlson wasn’t too keen on the lack of utilities.
“I guess I’m not sold on a seasonal campground without water and sewer available,” said Carlson. “Because I think it would just create a huge mess. And then it would be almost like a tent city. I don’t think that’s what we want.”
Borough Manager Scott Hahn also raised concerns about monitoring.
“Operationally, I think both Ray and I have this worry that it would be just a stinking mess,” said Hahn.
Steve Burnham Jr. pointed out that there is already a free campground in Dyea that gets little to no use.
But, Burnham said there’s one spot he’s interested in. He said it might not be a seasonal campground, but…
“I do like the idea of looking at a campground above Smuggler’s Cove, near the rifle range area as you’ve mentioned before,” said Burnham. “I do have concerns of the potential contamination of the rifle range. But I do think it’s just something we deal with and go past it. I don’t think it would be that much of an issue if we just took it by the horns and took care of it.”
Dave Brena said he thinks water and sewer could likely be put in that location temporarily.
“It’s an ideal location, people would really like it,” said Brena. “It has a road in that probably wouldn’t be too hard to patrol. There’s a lot of privacy, a lot of little nooks and crannies. It is a short walk over the footbridge.”
But Jay Burnham raised concerns about that location.
“There’s a lot of nooks and crannies up there,” said Burnham. “And terrible things could happen. But I don’t think that would be the best place to have a community in the woods. We’ve had communities up at lower lake before. I don’t think it would be a good idea to facilitate that.”
The assembly sent the idea to the Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee, to continue to look for appropriate spaces.