City lends scarified parcel to Steamboat Condos

City lends scarified parcel to Steamboat Condos

Just a license, not a lease

By Jason Koler

The Key West City Commission voted to allow the Steamboat Condo Association the opportunity to landscape a parcel of city-owned land at their meeting this past Tuesday.

Based on a recommendation from Assistant City Manager David Fernandez, the city will enter into a license agreement with the condo association “to enhance the appearance of this blighted area and coincide with our obligation to promote the green initiative at no coast to the City of Key West.”

In a letter sent to the city, Key West resident Christine Russell stated she was totally against any agreement between the city and the condo association citing, “this is an attempt to weasel in on this parcel of land. This will be just the beginning of their eventual claim of this land.”

“This appears to be a sweet deal for a developer,” said Key West Mayoral candidate Margaret Romero, stating trees have already been planted on the parcel in question.

Monday Nelson English Park, which is nestled alongside the Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Pool, will be closed until August 8, so that crews can install new lighting. In order to provide safety for the community, the park must be closed while the new lights are being installed. Both Nelson English and Willie Ward parks, which lie on either side of the community pool, are undergoing enhancements. The lighting improvement is part of a citywide project to install new and greener lighting at parks and sports fields across the island. Six parks are being retrofitted, thanks to federal grants from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and the Department of Energy. Retrofitting of the George Mira Football Field and the Dewitt Roberts Softball Field are expected to begin this week as well.

“The purpose of this agreement is to eliminate a dustbowl and plant trees,” said Fernandez. “The only purpose for them to be onsite is to be able to maintain what we have allowed them to plant there.”

Fernandez said the benefits of the agreement, “just made sense,” since the Steamboat Association will absorb all the costs of beautifying and maintaining the property, while the city will retain complete control of the parcel for any future use.

Commissioner Terri Johnston objected and stated, “We are setting precedent here in allowing a ‘for profit organization’ to utilize city property,” as she referenced a similar usage situation involving Wisteria Island.

Mayor Craig Cates clarified that the Steamboat Association will not get “any use out of it.”

“I will stipulate that you can use it to your hearts content,” said local developer Ed Swift. “I just don’t want it to remain ugly.”


In other business

• City Manager Jim Scholl announced a tentative 2.8627 millage rate for the next fiscal year, “down 1 percent from last year.” Scholl said city staff with continue to work on the budget before making two presentations to the commission in September.

• Issued a Special Event Permit to AIDS Help, Inc to conduct the Coronation of the Key and Queen of Fantasy Fest at the Southernmost Beach Café on Friday, October 21.

• Authorized Parade Charitable Foundation to conduct Parrot Heads in Paradise Street Party on Friday, November 4 with the closure of Duval Street between Fleming and Southard.

• Requested road milling and paving a portion of Eaton Street between White and Whitehead from the FDOT.

• Extended the contract for sidewalk enhancements for Leon Street and Duck Avenue with Charley Toppino and Song, Inc.

• Reduced the one-way bus fares for seniors utilizing the Lower Keys shuttle.



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