The Keys Overnight Temporary Shelter (KOTS) for homeless people will be rebuilt in the coming years, hopefully with the help of a $4.3 million federal grant. CONTRIBUTED

A $4.3 million grant could help rebuild Key West’s homeless shelter on College Road, while extreme staffing shortages may cost the city up to $400,000 in consulting fees, as the city’s planning department no longer has any planners on staff except the planning director.

When they meet on Tuesday, Oct. 19, at 5 p.m., the Key West city commission is expected to approve the grant application to rebuild the Keys Overnight Temporary Shelter into a “permanent, storm-resistant, concrete and steel facility. The current facilities are dilapidated and beyond their useful life,” city documents state.

The hoped-for grant would come from federal coronavirus funding designated to help communities prepare for the impacts of the pandemic. In this case, the new KOTS would help “in anticipation of individuals displaced by evictions that are a result of unemployment caused by the pandemic and will help (Key West) respond to the pandemic by providing centralized case management to help residents through the pandemic.”

Discussions of unemployment sound incongruous with the entire country seemingly shorthanded, and the city of Key West is no different.

Commissioners will likely approve a contract extension with the Corradino Group, consultants that will handle the city’s planning department responsibilities until sufficient staff can be hired.

The initial contract with Corradino was for a one-month stopgap period, but now will be extended for a year.

“This contract was initiated when one planner remained, but since that time, staffing has shifted,” the Oct. 19 agenda states. “The planning department is currently finalizing arrangements with the consultant to fully engage in nearly all aspects of departmental work. At this time, Corradino Group staff are reviewing major projects to begin submission of staff reports to the planning director.” The contract has a cap of $400,000.

In other upcoming city commission activity, lawmakers are expected to approve a 10-year lease of the new recreation building at Bayview Park to the Southernmost Boys and Girls Club, which provides affordable after-school care for working families.

Finally, a cruise ship discussion is likely, as the Tuesday agenda includes an item that would enable City Attorney Shawn Smith to “negotiate a letter of representation with a law firm for services related to the cruise ship ports referendum, ordinances or issues.”

No law firm has been named in the pending resolution, and Smith said at the last meeting that he would not hire a firm without the commission’s knowledge and approval, even though some commissioners have voiced their confidence in Smith’s decision.The commission meets at 5 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 19 at Key West’s City Hall, 1300 White St. For the complete agenda, visit

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Mandy Miles drops stuff, breaks things and falls down more than any adult should. She's married to a saintly — and handy — fisherman, and has been stringing words together in Key West since 1998.