Aug 182017
 

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Arnaud and Naja Girard
Arnaud and Naja Girard, owners and editors of the new, digital, Key West the Newspaper (The Blue Paper) previously reported for the former Key West The Newspaper, Key West’s longest running independent weekly, published by Dennis Reeves Cooper, Ph.D., from January 1994 until November 2012. The Girards are perhaps best known for their discovery of and extensive research surrounding the US Navy’s 1951 claim of ownership of Wisteria Island but are also responsible for top investigative stories including breaking news coverage of the highly controversial in-custody-death of Charles Eimers on Thanksgiving Day 2013, the catastrophic police tasing of Matthew Shawn Murphy, and the property tax scandal involving Balfour Beatty to name a few. Arnaud and Naja have lived in Key West since 1986.

  7 Responses to “Who’s Afraid of Wisteria Island?”

  1. If only a few people could take off their “officials” hats and look at Wisteria Island through a regular citizenss eyes, I think they would have a very different opinion and even a love for Wisteria Isand. If only every old time local could see Wisteria as it truly is, and NOT how a very few are trying to portray it. I have participated in clean ups in the past and have met some of the nicest, down-to-earth, GOOD people while on the island. I am afraid Roger Bernstein will never give up on developing the island. He has way too much time invested, and I can not even imagine how much money he has spent on attorneys over the years. In the end, it is all about the money to him. There are certainly no more safety concerns spending time on Wisteria, than in Key West and other islands in the Keys. In fact it is probably much safe, and certainly more tranquil!
    Though a spoil island, Wisteria is a simple, beautiful island of yesteryear. It may be the only green space we have left. The 33 acre peoples park has been shanghaied, paved, and a amphitheater built for tourists and the tourism industry. And last week we learned through the Blue Paper that the old Hawk Missile sight off Flagler is likely to be developed in some way. What’s so wrong with green space? Let’s figure out how we can save this last little vestige of old time Key West for LOCALS to enjoy.

    • They’re not finished with finishing off the 33 acre Waterfront Park and the amphitheater is not the problem in this case. The Bahama Village Redevelopment Advisory Committee (BVRAC) just this week approved the visioning project to build on Gilleran Field aka Petronia St. field with buildings and parking. This will be the last nail in the coffin for Key West. Also on the visioning project diagram is another change in the Park Master Plan to build housing or whatever on the grounds of the PAL building area, and this is a curve ball thrown to me as I and everyone else thought this area would be used for a large recreation field (maybe they’ll still fit it in somewhere). This will come up for final approval after the City Commission meeting Aug, 15 or later on with the City Commission acting as the CRA.

      This would be one of the biggest mistakes in the history of Key West to lose Gilleran Field to development, and this is not just my opinion – this is a FACT.

      What I would like to see and said so at the August 10 BVRAC meeting is to fix up everything in Bahama Village, but leave Gilleran Field alone, as to build there will pretty much ruin the Park, ruin Bahama Village and the quality of life for residents there and will negatively affect the entire city forever.

  2. Once the Sheriff’s Department lies about finding “wanted” people on the island they’ve lost all credibility with me. Why can’t we just leave the people who now enjoy the island alone? I didn’t see anything in the video warranting closing the island off to locals. Those who run this island have always sided with and bent over backwards for rich, greedy developers and it appears this is headed in that same direction.

  3. Really nice touch, the seriously trashed road on Stock Island, the same Island on which sits Sheriff Ramsay’s Headquarters and Detention Center housing, for good Federal money, Federal detainees.

    Hard to imagine why Sheriff Ramsay and Assistant State Attorney Mark Wilson and thus State Attorney Dennis Ward are so wound up about Wisteria Island, unless there is something else going on than people are using if for free, which, in Key West, is pretty darn close – using something for free – to a crime against humanity.

    I can’t help but wonder if much the same is in play as the blue paper unearthed in trying to wrap its mind around the sheriff’s policy toward his deputies finding illegal immigrants during bicycle accidents in crosswalks and making traffic stops and turning them over to Border Patrol and ICE?

    The blue paper unveiled, after tenacious investigation, that the sheriff is getting a lot of federal funding and he wants to keep getting it.

    I know what Bernstein’s angle is. Money, pride, and fury that the witch Naja Girard dug up the ancient Wisteria Island chain of title history and gave it to BLM, which declined to act, then changed its mind and laid claim to the island for the US Government.

    I recall Naja telling me she had run out of leads in that title history search, and I then had a dream in which I was told to tell Naja that there was something she had not found and to keep looking, and I told Naja about the dream, and she went back to looking and here we are.

    It really hurts my feelings that Bernstein does not call me a warlock.

    I recall speaking with the head national park ranger, who was stationed on Big Pine Key, about BLM laying claim to Wisteria Island. The head park ranger said she was not in the least happy about that. What was she going to do with Wisteria Island, so far away and hard to get to from where she operated? She soon was transferred to somewhere in California, as I recall, and she seemed happy with that.

    Perhaps BLM is having second thoughts, but what can it do? It laid claim to Wisteria Island. Bernstein lost his effort to prevail in Federal Court. I hardly doubt he and his field general Jim Hendrick have given up, though.

    I recall talking with State Attorney Dennis Ward and Assistant State Attorney Mark Wilson and then Florida Fish & Wildlife Captain David
    Dipre by telephone in 2010, I think. The three of them were on speaker phone in the State Attorney Office.

    The subject matter was the Wisteria Island trespass case Dipre had tampered by putting into the case file a photo of a no trespassing sign that was on the other side of the island from where the trespass arrest had been made. DiPre told me it was a scrivener’s error. That is, a simple clerical error. I told him I did not believe him. I told Ward and Wilson they should prosecute Dipre. They said they believed him.

    Before that, Dipre had starred in a Bernstein-produced video promoting why it would be good for the environment to develop Wisteria Island. Bernstein’s development partner was the Walsh family, which had built the Westin next to Mallory Pier and had developed Sunset Key. The Bernstein’s promotion plan for Wisteria Island was dubbed locally, “Sunset Key Deux”.

    In 2009, I went around Sunset Key with a friend in his skiff. The island looked to me like it had been designed by a plastic surgeon. The architecture was redundant. There was not a stick of native vegetation, it all had been hauled down from Miami.

    Same day, I tromped around Wisteria Island. It kinda reminded me of where I had once hunted in Alabama wildlands.

    Same day, we motored over to Demolition Key, which I think also is a spoil island, like Sunset Key and Wisteria Island, but looked like Mother Nature built it. Lush mangroves covered with white bird poop. Rookeries. A park, on which people were not allowed to set foot. It once was used to test navy explosives, thus its name.

    I think what BLM should do is offer Wisteria Island to the City of Key West, as a nature park in perpetuity. That would take a city referendum to approve.

    The city could run a ferry out there and back from Mallory Pier, or from the Ferry Terminal at Key West Bight. There could be a resident ranger station there. There could be a Fort Zachary Taylor-like concession stand there. There could be tent campsites. There could be a clothing-optional beach on the side of the island facing away from Key West.

    A Wisteria Island Society could be formed. The concession stand could sell Wisteria Island Nature Society memberships, t-shirts, flags, decals, etc.

    I bet BLM would be tickled pink to give the island to the city. I bet city residents would be tickled pink to have such a nature park as that. Well, not the people who would go catatonic over a nude beach being there. Can’t make everyone happy.

    As for Bernstein’s hurt feelings. He’s a tax lawyer. He knows someone, who took a quit claim deed from the State of Florida for Wisteria Island decades ago, got no better title than the State of Florida already had. He knows you cannot adversely possess and pay taxes on and in that way gain title to land owned by the United States of America.

  4. The people united will never be defeated.
    El pueblo unido jamás será vencido.

  5. Why doesn’t a__ hole Bernstein just learn that his greed backfired. He got screwed.

    I am 100% for the idea of a nude beach on part of it. Nudist will spend millions to enjoy it in KW and the ferry would make plenty . Only down side is people would pay camp overnight. That would piss off hotels and B and B.
    Also forces a few to live on a boat just off Wisteria and that is legal.
    Not sure how you could stop free usage. .of the boat people

    Bernstein needs keep out of this as he simply owns no part of Wisteria and never did.
    As it is now it is federal land and nudity is legal.

    Likely it is best not be under county or city control as they always screw things up.

  6. I can think of far more scary places to visit than Wisteria.
    Stock island with it’s high crime rate scares the hell out of us.

    If we must develop it then create a park. Would gladly pay a ferry boat ride. Please don’t create another Sunshine key with snooty people. As a park I am sure it could create jobs and plenty of income for the city. Few people will camp on it overnight because tourist usually want and can afford hotels and B &B with AC and showers. This would attract tourist.

    Is no reason to fear the homeless and most live on a boat.

    Will count on the Blue paper to keep a sharp eye on this as it has in the past. Thank’s for destroying Bernstein’s plans .