Thursday, October 05, 2006

Closed Door Session for City Leaders

The Key West City Commission will be meeting today in a closed door session to discuss the Southard Street/TAMPOA/Truman Annex situation.
It seems to me that TAMPOA is trying to control much more than Southard Street. Sounds like this is really about the Truman Waterfront. Does TAMPOA really think they are entitled to control what happens next door at the new Truman waterfront? Does Truman Annex not realize that the rest of the island has a say in what happens to the Truman waterfront. Personally, I would like to see a vibrant waterfront - with a marina, shops, a restaurant, some affordable housing, a new senior center, and a small park (I don't think we need a big park, especially since next door is the Fort Zachary Taylor State Park.) Most of all, I don't want to see a big empty park that would further insulate Truman Annex.
I hope our commissioners see this whole power struggle for what it really is.
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Bob said...

I beg to differ with your vision of the Truman Waterfront Park, Dave. The City already has a commercial waterfront, In fact, from Admiral's Cut to the Ferry Terminal, everything on the waterfront of what we think of as Old Town is commercial, with "marinas, shops, [many] restaurant[s], and much more. We have small park of sorts on prime waterfront. It's called Mallory Square. We use it for sunset celebrations, boxing matches, concerts, boating events, fishing, and many other purposes. It's a nice place to go to just sit. (It would be even better if we could get some upgraded landscaping for shade. And shoo away the vagrants who don't follow civil rules for parks.)

Remember, the Truman Waterfront Park once was a real park. It was called Oceanview Park then, and it included what was then the "colored" beach. People went there to swim, to fish, to launch boats. Kids played ball there. Families picnicked. It was then the park for what we now call Bahama Village. It was known then as "dark town", and crueler names than that.

Some of us here in Bahama Village have a vision of that kind of place again. We need more playing fields for the kids of the entire island. The fields along Kennedy Drive, between N. Roosevelt and Flagler are used constantly for baseball, softball, soccer, football, band, cheerleaders, and so forth. The kids of Bahama Village -- and there are probably as many kids living right here as in any other neighborhood in the City. We send them out of the Village for school, for recreation. Parents must arrange transportation, especially as the days get shorter and kids can't go across town on their bicycles for practices or games.

TAMPOA does face on to the Park in some of the prime areas, and no doubt some residents there see the Park as something more sterile than what we here in the Village envision. TAMPOA's attempts to control Southard St. is intended to control use of the Park and to maintain their exclusive enclave as a quiet preserve.

It might interest you to know what the Commission decided Tuesday evening. Watch the Bahama Village web log. As soon as I get a copy of the transcript of that meeting, I'll report on the meeting there.

We invite your readers to join the Bahama Village Consortium, or to make a contribution to our legal fund. We're investigating TAMPOA's claim to their right to control Southard St. (and other streets in Truman Annex). Our intent is to ensure that all residents of the City will be able to get to and from the Park in the safest, most convenient way. We'll have easy access to the Park from every street in Bahama Village. Step off the sidewalk, you're in the Park. We fear large traffic increases on our narrow streets. We worry that already- limited residential parking in the Village will be overwhelmed, especially during special events in the Park. We don't fear pedestrian traffic, bicyclists, taxis, and other low-impact traffic. Such a plan for the Park should -- no, must -- be primarily for residents, not tourists, or rich people. That means no upscale "assisted living" retirement home, no super-yacht marina, no waterfront restaurant, no bars, no upscale, tourist-oriented retail stores. (I note that the City just received a $100,000 grant from the Defense Department for master planning for the Park. This is our opportunity to redefine the Park. Public hearings, we need public hearings! Citizens should plan the Park. PARKS ARE FOR PEOPLE!)

Enough of my ranting. Thanks for agreeing with us on TAMPOA. I hope to persuade you from your vision of the use to which the City puts that land. I'll keep trying.

Cayo Dave said...

Bob - My thinking derives from what planners call "New Urbanism". It is a concept that rethinks the idea of suburbanism. Although I am by no means an expert, I'm led to believe that communities that integrate commercial and residential interests are more vibrant. And Key West is often cited as a great example of New Urbanism.
Here is a quote from James Moore, Professor, University of South Florida:
"Admittedly a somewhat nostalgic movement, the New Urbanism reaches back in time to traditional town planning concepts found in historic communities, including Florida's St. Augustine and Key West. Common design features include smaller lots, narrower streets, and mixed residential and commercial uses--all to encourage people to walk to shops, schools and work (or transit stops). Buildings hug the sidewalks and flag-bearing porches abound. Garages are relegated to the back of homes, and shade trees line the streets. Communities are designed for people rather than cars."
--1,000 Friends of Florida, 1996
The full article and discussion can be seen here:
I was hoping to add to the vibrancy of Key West with some commercial establishments including a marina, restaurant, and shops. Yes, a park should go there too, and your comments have made me more aware of the needs of Bahama Village's youth/community - but isn't there room enough for everything? If not, then I agree with you - make it a park for the community to enjoy.
I really appreciate your comments, Bob. Thanks for taking the time.