Fantasy Fest kicks off this week!

It’s always a busy time in Key West, but Fantasy Fest sure brings in the fun!

Key West Mayor Teri Johnston joined Good Morning Keys on KeysTalk 96.9/102.5FM this morning to talk about what’s going on in the city.

The first event for Fantasy Fest begins on Friday, Goombay in the Bahama Village. And the King and Queen will be chosen as well.

For Fantasy Fest events, click here:

The City Commission will meet on Wednesday and the commissioners will be approving a number of events and items, including the Wesley House Valentine’s Day Celebration.

This week is Be Like Mike Week to honor Mike Forster who passed away last year. This coming Friday is Be Like Mike Day.

Johnston said, “He was just an incredible, giving human being. I got first-hand experience of that, particularly during COVID, because I don’t know how many times he was in Bahama Village at Douglas Gym bringing down full meals for people. He was here for everything. Any time there was a need, I don’t care where it was in the Florida Keys, but Mike was there. Did it very quietly. Just one of those human beings that everybody should have an opportunity to meet and emulate.”

Forster served in governmental offices throughout the Keys.

Individual assistance in now available through FEMA for people who were affected by Hurricane Ian.

Johnston said, “We’re so relieved to get that last piece of the puzzle put into place because while we didn’t see the devastation as some spots in the state of Florida, we had many, many people who took four, four and a half feet of storm surge into their homes.”

In fact more than 400 homes in the Keys sustained significant damage during the hurricane.

Johnston said, “We have very limited resources to put displaced people when they lose their home because of our critical housing shortage right now. We have kind of a double whammy going on here with housing needs so high and housing availability so low. We are working through those issues.”

Generous people and groups have stepped forward to help people, as happens in the Keys.

Johnston said, “Thank you to everybody who has stepped up and helped our most needy in the most needy times.”

At the commission meeting on Wednesday, the Guidance Care Center will make a presentation to the commissioners.

Johnston said, “I think we’ve all realized and it certainly has come to the forefront, the mental health needs of the community, particularly after coming out of COVID, after coming out of Irma and now coming out of Ian. It has really put a stress on every, single community.”

The services available to everybody in Monroe County from the Guidance Care Center will be discussed as well as a capital improvement project going on in Marathon, where the Guidance Care Center facility resides.

Johnston said, “That is critically important to the city of Key West and it’s critically important that we support this project because over 50 percent of her clients come from Key West. We’re grateful for the services that are available there.”

Additionally, the commissioners will discuss the homeownership component of the 3.2 acres in Bahama Village.

Johnston said, “That’s to get those homeowner units down to an affordable price so that we can retain our community. It’s geared towards retaining multi-generational families. We want to make sure that we maintain the fabric of this community and that’s one of the ways that we can do that is keep people, get them in a home ownership program so they can start to accumulate wealth. I think most of us know that’s how we all started off. We got to buy our first home. It may not have been a beauty, but from that, we accumulated some monies and were able to move to the next home. What we’re trying to do right now is to give 28 homeowners in the Bahama Village area an opportunity to own their own homes. We’re going to subsidize that to get that down to a level where people can actually afford it.”

Another item on the agenda will be to approve a solar system for the Keys Temporary Overnight Shelter (KOTS).

Johnston said, “It’s one of those things if we don’t start becoming self-sustaining, as the storms grow more frequent, more powerful and our opportunity to lose power is becoming more relevant, it’s certainly something that we’ve got to take a look at. It’s not without an upfront cost, but this solar extension will pay for itself in 16 years and will basically make this new shelter self-sufficient at least as far as energy is concerned.”

The commissioners will also look at possibly opening up Admiral’s Cut at Mallory Square and Truman Waterfront Park.

Johnston said, “So hopefully we will have a lively conversation and finally move forward on that because it has been years and years and years in the making.”

For the agenda for Wednesday, click here: