Jun 172016
 
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Nance Frank, The Gallery on Greene

Dear Editor,

This week the TDC passed a $55,000,000 budget to advertise Key West and The Florida Keys. And The Key West Bight Management Board unanimously and resoundingly voted NO parking garage on the already congested Greene St. that the City of Key West proposed. The neighbors applauded, the tenants of the Bight were elated, Reef Relief which would have lost its space was relieved. A show of hands at City Hall showed that every individual and group in the room was sending a message to the City of Key West.

As a child Key West Bight was the most intriguing neighborhood on the island. Riding a bike down Caroline was such a treat. It was filled with colorful characters and a bustling maritime industry.

20 some years ago I was elated that the Bight was to be preserved. I voted for it and I’ve been a tenant at 606 Greene St. for over two decades.

I remember the last three schooners built across the street, Captain Outrageous’s airstream and many fascinating people like Captain Bill Ford and his wife Fran.

Many changes have taken place over my 67 years, but the 600 block of Greene has kept much of the Key West flavor we all love. Leslie, at Captains Corner, Kermit’s gingerbread house at Xmas & his pies, The Conch Farms dazzling surroundings and fresh island fish, 90 Miles to Cuba’s quaint charm, Reef Relief and Peppers all locally owned and operated. Mario Sanchez’s bight has changed but his art and that of 37 local artists flourishes here on the 600 block.

We are and should be a town of lovingly preserved enchantments that put us at a remove from the overbuilt and over-bulldozed development of the rest of the country with abundant natural beauties and lush vegetation. Our town boasts some of the most intriguing architecture anywhere in the form of the famous “Conch” houses built by early settlers, Mr. Skoko lives in the last one on our block.

The shrimpers, commercial watermen, and sponge market are gone. The Waterfront Market is a memory, large hotels and buildings have sprouted, but the Schooner Wharf and Conch Farm still host wooden tall ships which differentiates our neighborhood from any other marina in Florida.

Harvey, the last commercial trap man standing, pulls and tends his traps under old growth trees on Greene St.

Trees where White Crown pigeons roost, have been cut down and more and more congestion fueled by more parking lots and garages have lured people to old town by car instead of spending on mass transit or bike lanes. The city is encouraging dirty air and congestion.

We, the cottage industry business people of Greene St, many of us natives, are against the destruction of the last few beautiful old growth trees on our block.

Working watermen, tropical trees, ships and locally owned and operated businesses with character; these are the pleasures of the Historic Seaport, we who work and live here ask you to maintain. This was the mandate of the voters two decades ago. Additionally, it is what the visitors to the historic seaport come here for, a real experience. If they wanted convenience they would go to Disney World.

Additionally, according to Robson Forensic, a national leader in forensic engineering parking facilities have become likely locations for criminal activity. Facilities that experience a lot of property crime create a heightened risk for violent crime.

In summary a parking garage

Will:

  • Cause even more congestion
  • Eliminate mature trees
  • Block out the sun
  • Be another unattractive parking garage in the Historic District
  • Create years of construction with no parking space
  • Change the historical use of the Bight by taking last fishermen’s craft space away
  • Be fiscally unsound $5,000,000 + maintenance + workers + managers + associated costs
  • Be more difficult for delivery trucks maneuver
  • And will create more crime and an unregulated homeless shelter and bathroom

The City of Key West could:

  • Build underground parking like The Marker
  • Park & Ride on Rockland Key
  • Take the resources and fund mass transit
  • Turn The Historic District & Seaport into a UNESCO World Heritage Site
  • Make the existing lot more efficient without sacrificing the trees
  • Make new businesses provide parking

Thank you for your consideration,

Nance Frank,

The Gallery on Greene

606 Greene St.

Key West

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 June 17, 2016  Posted by at 1:03 am Issue #171, Letter to the Editor  Add comments

  3 Responses to “A Glimmer of Hope in a Crises of Success”

  1. Thanks Nance. There sure have been a lot of changes. Thank goodness that something still remains of the old bight.

    The biggest thing that the city should do is put an end to the Tax Increment Funding District (TIF) that has been in place since the city purchased the property.

    TIFs work by taking the property tax value that exists at the time of the creation, then pooling the tax revenues that occur from the increased value and putting them into a fund for use by the district. These are not only the funds that would go to the city, but also the school district, county, mosquito control, etc.

    After first passing a TIF, there isn’t a lot of money, because the differential between the old value and the new is slight. This is ironic, because the needs are great, but the funding is minimal. All the improvements and new construction that have occurred, however, have not benefited KW’s General Fund and the project is literally stealing money from the schools.

    In the meantime, the fund generates enormous money every year, a good portion of which should not belong to the city, or more specifically The Bight District. Now, the Bight is the most improved portion of the city and it is still not sharing the revenues that it should be generating for the benefit of the rest of the public. That’s why they need to figure out multi-million dollar projects to spend the money.

    When you consider the brick walks, exotic Ipe wood decking, lighting and landscaping are all complete, it’s time to slay this beast and allow the rest of the city and county reap the rewards that result from this public investment. In that regard, it is like the TDC funding… it just grows bigger and bigger every year.

    If you want to preserve the bight, it’s time to stop pouring so much money into it and allow those funds to go where they are really needed. Otherwise, what’s left… gold plated drinking fountains?

  2. Ms. Frank,

    I tend to agree in varying degrees about some issues you mention, except I’m unclear about what affect or result you want to obtain from UNESCO. I’m also not sure about the logistics of how a Park & Ride would work from Rockland Key. Can you shed some light on how this operation would work?

  3. Well done! I urge you to send it to the mayor and City Commission.

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