a red drink sitting on top of a sandy beach
red cocktail on the white sand of a paradisiacal beach with the sea in the background. Copy space.

This week’s Key West city commission meeting, on Thursday, July 13, could be more exciting than usual.

It takes place on the day the city is proclaiming “Key West Legal Rum Day,” AND it’s retiring City Manager Patti McLauchlin’s last day of work. 

If that’s not a reason to celebrate with locally made rum, we don’t know what is.

The rum proclamation is in honor of Key West’s First Legal Rum Distillery, created by Paul Menta and Tony Mantia, on its 10th anniversary as the first license ever issued in Monroe County for a business to legally and locally produce alcohol, the key word being “legally.”

The distillery has also become an integral part of the Key West community, helping and donating to countless charity projects and hurricane recovery efforts.

But back to the city commission meeting, which starts its morning session at 9 a.m. and its evening session at 5 p.m.

In the morning, in addition to the rum proclamation, city officials will honor McLauchlin and hear an update “to provide essential information on the progress of the Florida Keys Water Pipeline Replacement” from Florida Keys Aqueduct Authority Director Greg Veliz.

Captain David Dipre of Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission will discuss the presence and removal of derelict vessels in Keys waters. The city’s port director will also provide an update on the proposed mooring field in Man of War Basin around Wisteria Island. The county has proposed 100 mooring balls for the area. 

Officials also will discuss the new welcome sign being designed for the entrance to the island, and Code Compliance Director Jim Young will update the commission on his department’s activities and priorities. Officials also are expected to award an $8 million construction contract to the locally owned Keystar Construction to build the new and improved Frederick Douglass Gym and Community Center in Bahama Village.

The morning session of the meeting also includes approval of the consent agenda, which includes special event permit approvals, equipment purchases and other non-controversial items that typically get approved without discussion.

And then comes the evening session, starting at 5 p.m.

That session will include a discussion about The Lofts workforce housing development at Truman Waterfront, which has been wrestling with questions over a $4 million request from the Monroe County Land Authority. Developers of the new community oppose the requirement that each new tenant and homeowner at The Lofts would be required, under land authority policy, to requalify annually for the income guidelines. Such a requirement, developers fear, would discourage residents of The Lofts from pursuing pay raises and better employment given the fact that it could jeopardize their residency in the workforce housing development. 

The commission will hear the latest update about that project during the evening session of the commission meeting. 

Officials also will consider changes to the city’s ordinance governing the placement and maintenance of newspaper racks on city sidewalks. The proposed revisions include a permitting system that would prioritize the racks based on the frequency of publication.

“The City Manager shall be guided by the following criteria of priorities in issuing permits whenever more than four news racks are proposed for any one news rack location: First priority shall be daily publications (published five or more days per week).  Second priority shall be publications published two to four days per week.  Third priority shall be publications published one day per week. Fourth priority shall be publications published less than one day per week.”For the full agenda, visit cityofkeywest-fl.gov.