KEY WEST PLANS NEW PARKS, PLAZAS & HOMELESS SHELTER

Key West officials on May 3 will consider asking voters to approve a 99-year lease for the Key West Tropical Forest & Botanical Garden on College Road. MANDY MILES/Keys Weekly

A new Bayview Park design, a new homeless shelter and a new, long-term lease for the Key West Tropical Forest & Botanical Garden on College Road are on tap for Key West city commissioners, when they meet at 5 p.m. Tuesday, May 3.

The agenda also proves that special events are back in full force, with approvals slated for the Key West Business Guild’s Pride street fair and parade on June 4-5, the Police Athletic League’s Mango Fest on June 25 and the Key West Rotary Club’s Brewfest on Sept. 3.

Officials will consider the development plan for the new Keys Overnight Temporary Shelter, which will replace the current homeless structure in the same location on the sheriff’s office property. The existing structures have surpassed their usefulness and will be demolished, the development plan states. The new shelter will be designed for 24-hour use. Formerly open only at night for sleeping, KOTS started staying open during the day during the pandemic. The change has prompted a noticeable reduction in the number of homeless people who panhandle downtown during the day. 

City officials also want to redesign Bayview Park and are expected to hire the architectural firm of Bert Bender & Associates to design a master plan that would include new restrooms, a new dog area, a new children’s playground and a new tennis pro building. The ballfields will remain at Bayview Park, according to city documents, which acknowledge that public use of the field has changed given the availability, now, of the larger spaces at Truman Waterfront Park.

Commissioners also will likely call for a referendum on the Aug. 23 primary ballot that would allow the Key West Botanical Garden & Tropical Forest to renew its lease for the garden on College Road for up to 99 years.

City officials will consider a proposal by Commissioner Clayton Lopez to name the new pedestrian plaza on upper Duval Street the Ramos-Lopez Pedestrian Park and Sculpture Garden. The adjacent Southernmost Mansion was owned by the Ramos-Lopez family since 1939.

“The Ramos-Lopez family, one of Florida’s oldest merchant families, were influential in the growth and improvement of the Key West community through business and social interests that ranged from sales and distribution, through hospitality, banking, publishing and politics,” the proposed resolution states. 

Also on tap, City Manager Patti McLauchlin will update the commission on the Request for Proposals that seeks consultants to redesign Duval Street and Mallory Square. Consultant Elisa Levy will provide an update on the city’s strategic plan.

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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.