Dear Editor:

I encourage every neighborhood in the Keys, to start their own community organization. If you already have one, I suggest you join and become active, in order to protect your neighborhoods and quality of life.

Over the years, I’ve seen many trailer park families evicted from their homes in order for developers to build “affordable” housing (which was not affordable). More expensive housing was built and the county commissioners approved it all, giving developers whatever they wanted, instead of what the public needed. 

There are two waterfront properties held in public trust: Laurel and MacDonald Avenues, that the developers of Wreckers Cay want to take over. 

Wreckers Cay developers bought up three trailer parks on Stock Island and evicted 100 families who were paying $900 a month rent. They then participated in creating a report of possible places for those families to relocate. From that report there were listings: One-bedroom apartment in Key West for $500, Two-bedroom for $800, and in fact every listing in their report was false (by the way, the county accepted this report).

The county has given many favors such as: permitted Wreckers Cay to sell the existing ROGOs on the property at market rate to another location (those ROGOs went for a hotel to be built in Stock Island — from residential to transient). The county then gave Wreckers Cay 279 ROGOs for free. They will be allowed to build fewer parking spaces required by code, they will not have to pay for building permits (the county could really use that money), the area impact from 100 to 300 homes will further overcrowd Stock Island, increase traffic jams on U.S. 1 and add to hurricane evacuation time.

So now, Wreckers wants to take over areas of public waterfront, not to build on, but to keep the public out and we in Stock Island say “STOP!” 

We want to keep the public waterfront areas to enjoy for ourselves. We want to utilize them to launch our kayaks, swim, watch the sunrise, sit on a bench to talk with our neighbors (there are no benches in Stock Island). This property has been covered up with concrete barriers for so many years. A group of us at Stock Island Association want to beautify and utilize these public waterfront spaces.

Because of COVID, there’s been a lot of businesses shutting down and workers are moving out of the Keys. People are not looking for a place to live (besides, they are living somewhere already), they’re looking for work. So, who are the developers building these 300 apartments for? 

Most importantly, these are public areas, and at the July 15 BOCC meeting, commissioners will decide whether to abandon these areas and allow private interests to keep them.

We want the commissioners to STOP working for the developers and start working for the people. We want to keep these public waterfront areas public.

Diane Beruldsen

Founder – Stock Island Association

Join Our Blast – Keys News Right to Your INBOX