STOCK ISLAND RESIDENTS SPEAK OUT: “KEEP PUBLIC WATERFRONT LAND PUBLIC!”
[Note: The Blue Paper has received eight (8) letters to the editor opposing the abandonment of waterfront public areas on Stock Island. The Board of County Commissioners will decide on July 15th.]
Re: Start your own community organization
I write to encourage every neighborhood in the Florida Keys, to start their own community organization.
If you already have one, I suggest you join it and become active.
In Stock Island, we just started the Stock Island Association (SIA), for residents who live in the area, to fight our county commissioners from giving public waterfront property to developers. It’s been done before, public land, public access to the water, taken away and given to private companies and developers here on Stock Island. By law, the public waterfront property is suppose to be protected, but county staff, developers, their lawyers, commissioners will justify giving the public waterfront property away, for exaggerated reasons, that are not honest. Even with a petition of over 1,200 signatures demanding that this “spit” of land on Laurel Ave, be kept public, I am unsure if we have a chance, as developers garner such tremendous “favors” from the county, it all doesn’t make sense.
Here in Stock Island, in just a few years, we have had such over development that we have a hard time getting off Stock Island and onto US 1 highway, the traffic has become horrendous with too many cars. Parking has become an issue. Our neighbors have been evicted from their homes, with no protection from our local government, only assistance to the developers who evicted these families. KW Resort Utility continues to rip us off with such high rates and our quality of life has diminished.
So we started SIA, to fight to protect what is left of Stock Island. We have joined one another to have a stronger voice, to learn information for what has been planned of our neighborhood, because we have been neglected and taken advantage of.
So, to all you people living in the Keys, if you want to preserve a quality of life in your neighborhoods, become aware, share with your neighbors and start your own community organization for the people who live there and protect what you have.
Re: the giveaway to developers, the Laurel Ave. (PENNY LANE) undeveloped land.
I remember the dredging of the bay when they created this man made spit.
I grew up in Stock Island and played there in this park. It was a wonderful place, open and free, my friends and I had a great time growing up there. This is a beautiful piece of property.
Then through the years, the place got covered up. You couldn’t see it, if you didn’t know it was there, because it was hidden from the public eye.
Now I understand the county wants to give it to the developers. Why are the commissioners giving it away?
Seems like there must be more to the story that we are not informed of at this time.
So I ask now: Commissioners, I ask you all to listen and explain why we should give up our property to questionable developers?
Why can’t we leave it alone for the public and let the us maintain it. I can see this property used so much as it once was. Just let us fix it up, we’ll take care of it.
I’m telling you we had so much fun, it really is a great place to enjoy.
Re: Save the Spit On Laurel Ave
Stock Island has changed considerably in the past several years. Everywhere you look are new hotels, restaurants and housing units. There’s no argument on my part for providing affordable housing and road improvements, however, I do have a problem with the proposal to give away part of a county road and boat ramp access at the end of Laurel Ave.
The developers of Wreckers Cay have long expressed their interest into acquiring it for free from our county commissioners who seem to think that this last little piece of old Stock Island would serve a better purpose in the hands of developers. We would lose boat ramp access, a beautiful view and possible pocket park area. It could be a very lovely place for locals to enjoy.
The sheriff’s department has long complained of derelicts vessels, trash and drunks in the area, but is throwing one’s hands up in the air and walking away the best solution? Yes, it’s a challenge, but not an impossible one. Why should residents and visitors be denied access to waterfront property so wealthy developers can profit from our loss?
Don’t even get me started on how the Rogos units were manipulated and ended up at the Key West Harbor Yacht Club. There will be a meeting for Stock Island residents, Tuesday, July 14, 7PM at Bernstein Park building for discussion. The very next day on Wednesday, July 15, there will be a BOCC meeting when the county commissioners will decide whether this property will remain public property, for public to use, or to give it to the developers.
Your voices are needed as well as phone calls to our county commissioners urging them to keep our public waterfront property on Laurel Avenue…. public!
Karen H. Woodbum
I write this letter in protest of our county commissioners willing to give away waterfront property that is owned by the public.
On Laurel avenue, in Stock Island, there is a strip of land that was created by the dredging that took place years ago. It is a pile from the water’s bottom that today has formed a solid strip of land that comes out nicely to create a beautiful area where one can view the sunrise, or just relax and enjoy viewing the water. No one owns this land, there is no “title” for this property. Yet, the Wreckers Cay development company believes they should get this piece of land, simply because they will build 300 apartments nearby.
Well I say this should stay in the public domain. It is lovely for the public to utilize.
Our county commissioners will vote at the next BOCC meeting in July [the 15th] whether to hand over this beautiful piece of spit, to the developers. I urge anyone interested for the public to keep this waterfront property to attend the virtual meeting, and let your voice be heard. I ask those wanting to preserve public waterfront property to write letters to our local newspapers, phone all the county commissioners telling them to vote NO and to keep this land for the public. Once this land is given away, the public will loose it forever.
Signed Nancy Hillman
Stock Island, member SIA
I have lived in Key West for forty-two years and have dined and played with friends on Stock Island throughout that time. I lived on Stock Island for 2 of those years and owned a sailboat during that time. The water and water activities were the reason I moved to Key West and I am sure I am not alone in that. I like to do paddle board, yoga and kayak now that I no longer have a sailboat. Access to the water is an important part of living in the Keys, yet is seems that as the years have gone by more and more of that access is being lost.
The most recent threat to that is to give one of the last remaining pieces of public waterfront access to developers on Stock Island. Though I appreciate the improvements that have been made to Stock Island, I am concerned about losing the most valuable possession on Stock Island for locals and that is access to the waterfront. Why does this give away of public land to private interest keep happening? This is especially appalling since it is neither legal nor wanted by the public. The Community Keys Plan which was arrived at after many community workshops stressed the need and desire for maintaining and enhancing public access to the waterfront. That is what I am asking the commissioners to do. Please make this a community friendly area where the families of Stock Island can stroll on hot nights, sit and look out at the water and launch their boats, dinghies, kayaks and wind and paddle boards. Let’s make it a place the community can be proud of, not just a place where tourists can pass by on the few days they spend here. There is no reason both the community and the tourists can’t have access to the waterfront.
Connie L. Tarpley
Over the years, I’ve seen many trailer park families evicted from their homes in order for developers to build affordable housing, which was not affordable to those families evicted. More expensive housing was built and the county commissioners approved it all, giving developers whatever they wanted, instead of what the public needed.
In regards to the spit of land on Laurel ave, where the public currently owns this waterfront property, the developers of Wreckers Cay want to take this land.
Wreckers Cay are not good people. They did not offer the 100 families who were evicted in those trailer parks on Laurel ave, any options where else they could live. Instead, they turned in a false report of listings showing a one bedroom apartment in Key West for $500, a two bedroom apartment in Key West for $800, and all the reported houses on their listing was false.
That report of possible places for those evicted was a lie and I feel the county should not do any favors for this company.
We are telling other developing companies that if you come to the Florida Keys, we’ll take care of you. We’ll allow you to evict hard working people from their homes. We’ll let you take those Rogos from that area to sell and use for another area. We’ll give you for free, the Rogos you need to build your project. It’s OK to build 300 apartments where there once was 100 homes thus impacting the area and over crowding Stock Island.
We’ve had a lot of businesses go out of business because of COVID, and people are looking for work, they’re not looking for a place to live, they’re moving out of the Keys, so who are the developers building these 300 apartments for?
But most important, is that the public owns this property that the county wants to abandon, to allow this horrible company to take over this land, so that the public will loose access to the waterfront. I wish the commissioners would stop working for the developers and start working for the people.
Stock Island, member SIA
Re: Keep Public Land Public
I’m writing to share with the public, information about Stock Island that I feel is unjust. Giving away public land to developers.
Currently, there is a piece of public waterfront land on Laurel Ave, and a petition which over 1,200 persons signed, telling the county commissioners they want the public to keep this waterfront property to enjoy for themselves and to be open to the public.
How sad that this piece of public property is about to be given to developers. The housing project the developers want to build will not be built on this land, so there is no practical purpose for the developers to be given this property. The company is Wreckers Cay and they want to take control and ownership of the land for their own personal use, keeping the public out.
This is unjust and unfair. The people of this community have spoken.
When a community makes it clear, they wish to keep possession of public land, there is no justification then to give it away to developers.
This topic comes up at the next July [15th] BOCC meeting. To all the county commissioners, I urge you to listen to the people. They have a right to keep this public land.
Stock Island, member SIA
RE: Save the Spit on Laurel Ave to keep for the public
I have lived in the Florida Keys for over twenty years, and in Stock Island for last ten years.
How lovely it would be if we could have a place to sit down on a bench to relax, drink a con leche, eat a croissant or to just feel the cool breeze in the evenings or to watch the sun rise.
There is such a place where us locals could utilize. An area that has been unused for many years, because it’s been blocked off by concrete barriers and not visible to the public.
By simply putting benches on the spit at the end of Laurel Ave, this piece of land jets out and is a natural beauty to Stock Island. However, the land on Laurel Ave is at risk to be taken away from the public.
I’m all for keeping the property open for all people of Stock Island. Please keep the property for the public, and let us utilize it’s open water, open air and beautiful space.
One thought on “STOCK ISLAND RESIDENTS SPEAK OUT: “KEEP PUBLIC WATERFRONT LAND PUBLIC!””
Keep what little public land that remains in the Keys public. The Keys have seen far too much taking of public land, which is then invariably transferred to private ownership, for private development, private use, and private profit. The government is supposed to act in the best interests of the people, the public, and not just in the financial interests of those who would profit by these unjust takings of public land. Do the right thing, BOCC, and leave the spit of land on Laurel Avenue alone!