Story last updated at 3:04 p.m. Thursday, October 3, 2002

Tourists offer improvement tips
Over the years, we have had the opportunity to visit parts of Alaska, including the Homer area, and have always felt welcome by the warm hospitality of the residents in your town. Of course, the fishing is always fantastic, and the view across the bay is ever-changing in its splendor.

In order to better accommodate visitors like ourselves, we took the liberty to make a few suggestions that would definitely make Homer a more welcome place to visit and live. They are:

1- Make downtown a safer and more enjoyable place to walk, wheelchair or bicycle. Presently, the Pioneer and Bypass streets are so wide and traffic so speedy, that crossing is oftentimes a dangerous proposition. Juneau has a great pedestrian friendly downtown, and possibly your officials could learn from their success.

We need to do everything we can to encourage more physical activity among Americans, as our lifestyles have become sedentary and our health reflects it. Making your streets a more desirable place for pedestrians and bicyclists would help on this front as well;

2- Bring the storefronts closer to the street, implement architectural standards to make more of the buildings aesthetically appealing. We really like the Alaska Berry building, The Hostel and Old Inlet buildings, for example;

3- Reduce the amount of noisy trucks and vehicles on the road. There is nothing more terrifying than to have a loud pickup speeding along within arms' reach. Noise also disrupts the enjoyment of window shopping or taking pleasure walks;

4- Allow on-street parking; reroute the commercial dump and delivery trucks out of the downtown area unless they have business there;

5- Make sidewalks wider to allow for pedestrians and wheelchairs; install bike routes along your streets, and plant trees along your roads and streets. This would make for a much more pedestrian/bicycle friendly community, which is one of the highest priorities among tourists when considering which towns to visit.

Homer has been known for being a charming town, but I fear it is losing this essential quality. Only serious consideration of the issues I bring forward here will save it from becoming just like any other nameless thoroughfare.

Angie and Mark Budnik, Milwaukee, Wis.