Key West Politics: Coconut Palms, Grass or Astroturf

Key West Politics: Coconut Palms, Grass or Astroturf

Photos by Josie Koler

They line the coast from the triangle, all the way to Eisenhower Drive—Coconut Palm trees! But they are about to be removed to make way for the North Roosevelt resurfacing project courtesy of the Florida Department of Transportation. This past Tuesday Key West City Commissioners decided what would be done once the pavement and concrete is set. They all agree – plain grass just won’t do!

“This is just another detail of coordination,” says city manager Jim Scholl.

One of this week’s resolutions called for nothing more than grass at the conclusion of the project. But, the public, urban forester enthusiasts, preservationists, and the commissioners weren’t keen on a seeing a bare boulevard.

“This is our entrance to the city,” Commissioner Teri Johnston pointed out. “The tourists expect to see tropical plants. But, we shouldn’t have coconut palms. They’re a hazard and a liability to the city. The coconuts can fall off and hit pedestrians, bicyclists, and cars.”

Attorney Shawn Smith informed the commissioners there isn’t any record of the city being sued over falling coconuts while individuals cruise along the bay. Scholl, agreeing, and adding that the city will be responsible to maintain whichever plant or tree they choose to place along the road. Coconuts Palms, while attractive, are also expensive to care for. So, the city will look at a different style of palm tree like the Hurricane Palm, a species resistant to wind and salt.

“I don’t want to see Astroturf around the palm trees like we have on Duval,” commissioner Jimmy Weekley garnered some chuckles with his insight. “People come down from Ohio and they expect to see green. Tropical greens. I’m in favor of keeping the palm trees and real grass. The tourists need to see that.”

The FDOT will buy the new trees. The city will be responsible for maintaining the landscaping. 

Other items to note:

Ordinance PASSES: Calling for referendum authorizing city to acquire Glynn Archer Scholl. Commissioner Teri Johnston voting against. The commissioners and Mayor Craig Cates voting in favor.

Pastor Forbes of Bethel AME appointed to Citizen’s Review Board.

Development approved for reconstruction and expansion of a Mormon church on Northside Drive.

Postponed to September

An ordinance to amend Chapter 6 of the Code of Ordinances entitled Amusements and Entertainment to add definitions, permit, application, appeal processes, locations, regulations and prohibitions regarding palm weaving.

Meeting Concludes in 90 Minutes!
Vice Mayor Mark Rossi Note: Without the questions, clarifications, comments, and bona fide charisma of Commissioner Barry Gibson (who is on vacation), the meetings sure do move quickly!

 

 

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