KEY WEST OFFICIALS TO TACKLE OBSCENITY & OPPOSE 2 STATE BILLS

The splash pad at Truman Waterfront Park has proven popular with families. The city’s Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee would like a similar feature included in the renovation plans for Bayview Park. CONTRIBUTED

At their Feb. 8 meeting, Key West officials are expected to signal their staunch opposition to two bills pending in the Florida Legislature, and finalize the city’s new rule prohibiting shops from displaying “obscene” merchandise in storefront windows that can be seen by children from public streets and sidewalks. The rule doesn’t ban or restrict the sale or purchase of such items, but requires shops to keep them out of window displays. 

As for the contentious state bills, the commission will consider a resolution that formally opposes — and urges state lawmakers to reject — a bill that seems aimed to encourage commercial development close to Florida’s coastline.

The bill,  SB 1526/HB 1647, would prohibit cities and local governments from preventing the demolition of most structures that are within a half-mile of the coast (meaning nearly every building in the Florida Keys.) The bill would further “allow development of replacement structures to the maximum potential allowed,” it states.

“The city of Key West would be severely impacted by such legislation. A substantial segment of buildings and structures, including nearly all of the ‘Old Town’ historic district, are located within a half mile of a coastline,” states the city’s proposed resolution in opposition to the state bill. If passed on Feb. 8, a copy of the city’s objection will be forwarded to Gov. Ron DeSantis, along with the bill’s sponsors in the state House and Senate as well as to the Keys’ elected officials, State Rep. Jim Mooney and State Sen. Ana Maria Rodriguez.

“The language of these proposed bills would grant developers authority to demolish almost every commercial and mixed-use structure in Key West, and replace them with structures of size and capacity that would effectively erase the historic charm and significance of the island,” the city’s resolution continues.

The city commission is also expected to signal its opposition to a state bill that would effectively dissolve the city’s Citizen Review Board, which was created in 2002 to allow citizens to file a formal complaint against a law enforcement officer. The proposed state bill, SB 576/HB 601, would bar cities from convening oversight boards and committees to investigate such complaints.

Also on the agenda:

  • The city commission will officially proclaim February Black History Month in the city of Key West during its evening session that starts at 5 p.m. on Feb. 8.
  • Officials are expected to appoint Richard Toppino to the Key West Housing Authority Board as a successor to his father, Frank Toppino, who retired this year at the age of 100 after serving on the board for more than 50 years. The appointment is scheduled for the morning session of the meeting, which starts at 9 a.m.
  • Consider the recommendation of the Parks & Recreation Advisory Board that a kids’ splash pad or water feature be included in all plans for the renovations of Bayview Park. A splash pad at Truman Waterfront Park has proven very popular for local and visiting families. The item is slated for the morning session.
  • The commission will formally enter into an $8.5 million contract with Keystar Construction to build the new homeless shelter on College Road, which will be renamed from Keys Overnight Temporary Shelter to the John Jones Navigation Center. The item is slated for the evening session of the meeting.

The commission’s morning session begins at 9 a.m. and the evening session begins at 5 p.m. at City Hall.  The full agenda is at cityofkeywest-fl.gov.

Mandy Miles drops stuff, breaks things and falls down more than any adult should. An award-winning writer, reporter and columnist, she's been stringing words together in Key West since 1998. "Local news is crucial," she says. "It informs and connects a community. It prompts conversation. It gets people involved, holds people accountable. The Keys Weekly takes its responsibility seriously. Our owners are raising families in Key West & Marathon. Our writers live in the communities we cover - Key West, Marathon & the Upper Keys. We respect our readers. We question our leaders. We believe in the Florida Keys community. And we like to have a good time." Mandy's married to a saintly — and handy — fishing captain, and can't imagine living anywhere else.