May 202016


Truman Waterfront Advisory Board Member, Ben Volpian, has asked for the group’s May 23, 2016 board meeting to include a frank discussion on future park plans.

Volpian says there are three Plans:

1. The Truman Waterfront Park Master Plan,

2. Conceptual Plan as presented by Planning Director, Thaddeus Cohen, and

3. Truman Waterfront Plan as presented by Ben Volpian.

His aim is to begin a group discussion that would compare the 3 Plans using the City of Key West’s Mission’s and Duties of the Truman Waterfront Advisory Board criteria as shown on the City’s website:

  • To make recommendations to the City Commission and LRA on all items and issues related to the entire Truman Waterfront area for the improvements of the Truman Waterfront.
  • To promote the rehabilitation, revitalization, conservation and redevelopment of lands and structures within the Truman Waterfront.
  • Advise the City Commission on projects and uses for the property which are consistent with the comprehensive plan and conveyance documents from the United States.
  • Explore funding sources to offset any potential taxpayer burden.
  • Study the feasibility of proposed projects and the viability of future projects.
  • Facilitate productive communication and elicit opinions from all interested individuals and entities, especially the United States Navy.

“I would like to address these Plans in an open and back and forth conversation with any and all people as to what Plan or Plans would most benefit the people of Key West and our guests overall as far as conserving open spaces in the Park,” said Volpian.

The board will meet at 6:00 pm at Old City Hall on Greene Street.  All members of the public are invited.



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 May 20, 2016  Posted by at 1:05 am Issue #167, Public Notice  Add comments

  8 Responses to “Truman Waterfront Advisory Board Member, Ben Volpian, Wants Fresh Talks About Park Plans”

  1. Somebody must point out this post makes no sense. Did Ben move here yesterday? These are all questions we have been addressing, badly, for 20 years.

  2. Mr. Boettger,

    Just mostly attempting to preserve open space at the “peoples park,” as well as keeping the $8 million PAL building from being demolished to make room for a recreational field when there is already a field in place.

    I’ve been here for over 60 years and attended the 1st public meeting about the Waterfront Park some 14 years ago, and suggested then the same thing I’m suggesting now, and that is to keep the open spaces in the park area free from excessive development.

    What good is hindsight if in 10-20 years or longer, future generations say – why didn’t they listen and save some of our last open spaces on this island?

  3. Well, let’s see. When I arrived in Key West in late 2000, it had a beautiful state park on Truman Waterfront, which is still there. The locals call it Fort Zach, for Fort Zachary Taylor, the old Union fort, is still there. The lovely state park lies adjacent to scarified Truman Waterfront, where the city has, since the Navy deeded it over to the city in, what?, 2002, being masturbating all over itself and going nowhere.

    Perhaps for a reason it went nowhere. Perhaps there was a cosmic oversight by everyone who wanted to realize their own personal wet dream for Truman Waterfront? Perhaps the oversight was, hmmm, naw, couldn’t be. No way, forget it, but just how many low and next to low income rental housing units could be built on the FREE land the Navy gave to the city, which the Housing Authority could run, and make a whopping dent in the acute affordable rental housing in Key West? Oh, what acute affordable workforce rental housing crises? We recently learned from our city and county commissions there is no such thing. We recently learned the acute crisis is in market rate middle income workforce housing. Yeah, Peary Court.

    So go ahead and built your second city park, for, what?, $58 million, for which the city will receive no revenue, and then there’s the annual maintenance cost. While the city can’t even scrape $1 million for its new homeless shelter. Not to worry, the city’s homeless people won’t dare set foot on that new $58 million park. The wise park designers will make darn sure of that, by not putting a single bench in the new park for anyone to sit on, stop and hang out, enjoy the view and peace and tranquility and, er, all the pretty trees, shrubs and flowers and the nearby ocean view. It will be a walk-though park, like, hmmm, the drive-through Taco Bell on North Roosevelt Blvd. No stopping, no loitering, no sitting on the grass – that’s camping. Oh, that only applies to homeless people. No bringing booze into the new park – that’s open container. Oh, that only applies to homeless people.

  4. Sloan, Good morning, sir. Probably won’t comment on everything you wrote on this particular post, but the $58 million price tag some people quote is no more. Start off with $58 million and subtract $14 million for the proposed 32,000 sq.’ Community Center (CC) which “probably” will end up around the Douglass Gym area, and this is after the CC had been downgraded to 13,750 sq.’ for around $3.7 million. Then, subtract $1.5 million for not moving the Horse Stables, presently within the Police Athletic building (PAL), from the vacant lot across from the proposed Amphitheater. The Horse Stables have also been downgraded from $1.5 million to $500,000. Now subtract $4 million for eliminating the proposed Amphitheater. So, just those 3 changes in the Truman Waterfront Park Master Plan brings the total down from $58 million to around $38.5 million – which is still WAY too much, agreed.

    Here’s what could be done bare-bones to roughly finish off the project and still produce some revenue that the Navy REQUIRES while still preserving the area as a great, versatile park:

    1) 3 small Conch house style retail outlets including a Snack Shack = $600,000

    2) Building 103 – Renovate for revenue producing Wedding Reception; Meeting place; Parties; Dance Hall area = $3,000,000

    3) PAL building – Renovate and keep the Horse Stables there = $1,500,000

    4) 3 Parking Lots (225 spaces) with (300 plus bike racks) = $1,800,000

    5) Bicycle Rental outlet = $300,000

    6) Band Shell = estimated $750,000

    7) 3 Park Sponsorships = NO COST

    TOTAL COST = $7,950,000

    ESTIMATED YEARLY REVENUE (Not including Band Shell Rental) = $826,000

    • Our understanding is that the Navy no longer “requires” revenue. Although it was an “economic conveyance”, the requirement to show the Navy a plan with a revenue stream and to show the Navy where any revenue was being used expired years ago… Is that correct, Ben?

  5. Editor,

    That’s news to me. I’ll do some checking and get back with you on that. Even so, revenue centers are probably needed to offset maintenance expenses which were originally estimated at $1.3 million – but it’s hard to tell without knowing what the end product will be. If the Park is more rural than urban, then that could keep expenses down to around $800,000-$900,000/yr. maybe less.

  6. Editor, You are correct, the Navy no longer “requires” revenue. It still goes that maintenance expenses should be offset somehow, though. Thanks for your input, it is appreciated!

    • Thanks, Ben, for lowering the price of the park, which still will produce no revenue to pay for itself or for its maintenance. Affordable rental housing all over Truman Waterfront would pay for itself over time and provide the city a valuable housing project and a big equity against which it could later borrow to build more affordable housing.

      I was at a TWAB meeting maybe a year ago in Old City Hall when Bill Verge and Bob, can’t recall his last name, shame on me, who had sat on the Bahama Conch Community Land Trust board, reintroduced the TWAB members to the history of Truman Waterfront, including the Navy wanted Bahama Village to be the beneficiary of the Truman Waterfront revenues, and how the city had shimmied and leveraged Bahama Village to produce revenue for the city, which was not plowed back into Bahama Village. The guilty forted up behind the dais were not swayed.

      Some months ago, during citizen comments at a city commission meeting, I told the mayor and commissioners to dissolve TWAB, the new park that would not pay for itself was madness, and to cover Truman Waterfront with Housing Authority rental housing, which, according to Ron Demes, the Navy’s civilian liaison with the city, the Navy would allow after the toxic wastes on the Gulf side of the road was cleaned up at the city’s expense – the Navy already had cleaned up the toxic waste on Atlantic side of the. The guilty forted up behind the dais were not swayed.

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