December 16, 2009
Blast from the Past
I have a Google alert set for "Roskie." Like many people, I like to know when my name appears on the internet. Also, Roskie is an unusual name, so I like to know about other Roskies around the world.
The other day something really interesting came through as an alert, something that's relevant to the content of this blog. It was the minutes from the City of Juneau Planning and Zoning Commission for July 27, 1970. The hearing was for a conditional use permit for a 30 unit townhouse development. Not unusually, the residents of a nearby single-family subdivision, named Totem Park, were opposed to the development. The argument proceeded in an entirely typical fashion. The residents of the existing subdivision felt the land should be a park, and were trying to get the city to acquire the property. Also, the developer planned to leave only a 30 foot buffer on the property, and the nearby residents felt that was too small. The minutes go along in this vein for awhile, until in paragraph 13 there is testimony by my grandfather, George Roskie. My grandparents owned a home in Totem Park. He testified that the trees on the contested property provided cover from heavy storms, and that if the trees were cut from the center of the property that protection could be lost. He also said that the compaction and filling caused by the construction could be detrimental to the trees. (Anyone who has dealt with local tree ordinances will recognize this issue.) There is then a rather technical exchange between one of the zoning commissioners and my grandfather about how many trees might be cut before damage would occur, and whether a playground would be appropriate on the site. The exchange is a bit puzzling, unless you know that my grandfather was a forest supervisor for the US Forest Service at the time (and thus stationed in Juneau). My grandfather was career Forest Service and he and his family lived all over the west, including Alaska. After he retired in Great Falls, Montana, he became a real estate agent and served for several years in the Montana State Senate, where he specialized in natural resource issues.
My grandfather died during my first year of law school, so these little glimpses of his history are always precious to me. We didn't see eye-to-eye on environmental issues when he was alive, so it's interesting to note similarities in our career interests.
By the way, the vote on the conditional use permit was delayed to the August meeting. I'm not sure why these minutes have appeared on the internet now - perhaps Juneau has begun archiving their records on-line. If I find the time I might follow up on this story to see what ultimately happened to the property.
Jamie Baker Roskie
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