Letter to the Editor
To the Editor,
We write this letter as a group of long time Whittier residents in response to the Girdwood Governance Association’s (GGA) pursuit of a borough formation in Prince William Sound of which Girdwood is neither culturally or geographically a part. Our group is similar to GGA in that we are pursuing what is best for our community. We differ, though, in the fact that our group actually represents the sentiments, perspectives and desires of the vast majority of our residents.
We understand and appreciate the GGA’s desire for self-governance and separation from Anchorage. It is difficult to be a small fish in a large pond. What we don’t understand is the desire and willingness to impose that same circumstance on the small communities of Prince William Sound like Whittier, Chenega, Tatitlek and Eyak for Girdwood’s benefit. To give up a significant part of our own self-governance of the communities in which we live and to designate that to the community of Girdwood, which has no viable connection to any of our communities, is unfathomable. While GGA may feel that they don’t have much in common with Anchorage, they have even less in common with the people and community of Whittier.
GGA has proposed that the center of the borough be Cordova. Educationally, if the people of Girdwood believe that they are disconnected from decision-making now, put the school board in Cordova and see how that impacts the education of our students. Will Girdwood’s high schoolers be bussed to Whittier where we already have a high school? Will our elementary students be bussed to Girdwood? Neither suggestion seems tenable.
Contrary to their statements, GGA has no support for their borough proposal from the communities in Prince William Sound. Rather, there are nine strongly worded letters of opposition from the Tatitlek IRA, the Tatitlek Corporation, the Chenega IRA, Eyak IRA, Chugachmiut, Chenega Corporation, the Chugach Corporation, the Chugach School District and the City of Whittier.
GGA is pursuing this idea against the wishes of the people in Prince William Sound who will be most affected, and GGA just needs to stop. They have stated that there are other borough options that they can pursue. They need to do that and leave the communities of Prince William Sound out of their ill-conceived proposal.
We, as a representative group of citizens of Whittier, recognize the GGA’s right to assemble and right to their own opinion. We, too, recognize that right and stand strongly opposed to GGA’s attempts to negatively impact our communities for their own benefit and pursuit of their own greater self-governance. We currently have appropriate self-governance and want to keep it that way.
Whittier Citizens’ Group
Karen Dempster, Barb Ensminger, June Miller, Arlen Arneson former Mayor of Whittier and Charlene Arneson