Harry Bethel: Put the Amphitheater Question to Voter REFERENDUM

Harry Bethel, Former City Commissioner

Mayor & Commissioners,

The Truman Waterfront Park is a very sensitive issue with the residents of this community. We don’t need all these controversy’s about the Amphitheater. It is very simple when the property was turned over to the City of Key West it was for the enjoyment of our residents. I know in your hearts that you know that an Amphitheater is NOT NEEDED, nor wanted. Please one of you that voted in the affirmative can bring this back before the City Commission, please do the right thing for YOUR COMMUNITY AND IT’S RESIDENTS it’s the FAIR thing to do and you will be RIGHT.

This issue is so important to our Community and it’s Residents that maybe the best thing to do is listen to their voice by a binding referendum of their vote. The Commission put the widening of the channel up to a referendum and it went down in flames. In my humble opinion you will see the same results with a binding referendum on the Amphitheater, listen to YOUR residents speak through their vote.

Thank you for listening.

Harry Bethel

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3 thoughts on “Harry Bethel: Put the Amphitheater Question to Voter REFERENDUM

  1. Nice comments…after looking into Key West and County history, this lack of “Residents/voters respect” is normal Conch B. S.

    The past leaders created this Elected Official’s attitude toward voters and common sense, and now the past officials are complaining about what they did themselves.

    So! all enjoy the present out-of-control leadership for it will not get any better in the future…except when the money is gone and your investment is nothing.

    Yes, and what are your children learning from your actions…nice future for your children and grand children.

    Lets us not forget the retired, and elderly…Voters, that allowed this mess.

  2. A few people, including at least one Board member, mentioned a YES or NO referendum about the Amphitheater at the Waterfront Board’s last meeting on Wednesday. I believe a poll to be taken by residents in Bahama Village was also mentioned from at least someone in the audience, but obviously a poll like this would have to also include the Truman Annex folks.

    However, as an observer and Board member who was not on the Board when Amphitheater voting originally took place, it looks to me that it is probably too late to stop the proposed Amphitheater from happening – UNLESS someone or a group of people have it in themselves to work very, very hard to bring about a change of plans. And don’t forget that a contract to build has been put out and I believe accepted by the City Commission.

    Speaking of polls and referendums, before I was a Board member I was doing a little work down at the Waterfront area, and among that for my own research and knowledge I took a poll in Bahama Village. The question I asked of a random, small sample of people who lived in the area was: Are you in favor of keeping the Petronia St. Field as is for recreation and relaxing OR would you like to see affordable housing built there? 10 out of the first 11 people said they want to keep the Field as is with no building there. All of these people were strangers except for one, and interestingly the person I knew said there were already enough Parks around and he’d like to see housing there.

    I did not skew the poll question with leading rhetoric and I promised their remarks would be strictly confidential – and did not ask for or want their names. So, they easily and readily spoke to me off the record. This is the best way to take a poll, imo, because if someone knows you or are your next door neighbor (as can be the case in Bahama Village) then they might go along with the answer you want to hear just to humor you or else not to alienate you.

    I have said from the start that I was looking for a Bandshell type of structure that was a cross between the present Bandstand at Bayview Park, the old Bandstand there (if you’ve been here for awhile you know what I mean) and the bigger ones they have at Higgs Beach – and then add a concrete dance area around the front. As time went on and the original huge structure they came up with was revealed to the public, the Waterfront Board talked with the Planning and Engineering Depts. and after an extensive search the Engineering Dept. came up with the present and much better design – which actually mostly resembles a cross between the Bayview Park (and also the old Bayview Park Bandstand) and the Higgs Beach Bandstand. The Higgs Beach “Bandstands” look like bandstands, but they were originally constructed for artillery pieces during World War II, and if I’m not mistaken, the bathrooms there were used to store artillery shells.

    The Amphitheater items I sponsored at our Board meeting were: 1) Noise and also 2) Traffic/Parking. But the items soon turned into a full blown overall discussion about everything involved including cost which is set for $3,983,743, of which The Tourist Development Council (TDC) supposedly will pay half of that amount. The TDC money comes from part of the Bed Tax collected from hotels, so in that regard tourists are paying for half of the Amphitheater cost.

  3. Who else sees the irony in asking for a vote on whether there should be a Truman Annex amphitheater or not? Remember the last time we had a referendum on a similar subject: Peary Court? The voters overwhelmingly chose NOT to buy that boondoggle, but the City of Key West and Monroe County leadership found a way around the voters’ will and funded it anyway. The same thing WILL happen here. The amphitheater is a done deal. Someone is getting paid. It WILL be built, and there’s nothing any of us can do to change it.

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