It’s recognitions and holiday celebrations in Key West recently

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

The city recently commended Velma Christian for many, many decades of service to the Boy Scouts and the scouting organization.

Johnston said, “It was just a wonderful evening. We were out at the Truman Little White House and we had the honor of presenting Velma Christian, she’s been in the community for years, but he has served the Boy Scouts of America for 53 years. When you read the commendation, she has done everything for that organization from championing programs to volunteering for certain organizations, but she’s just had an incredible life. Velma, if you’ve never met her, is under five feet tall, I believe, but she’s just a spitfire. You can see how she helped that organization and she is so dedicated to the young people of Key West and Monroe County and making sure that they have everything offered to them that they possibly could and she has certainly gone out of her way to make that happen.”

Two gentlemen came down from Miami to help with the presentation.

Johnston said, “It was such an honor that Al (Childress) would like to bring Velma to our first City Commission, which is January 11, to introduce her to the entire City Commission and to the viewing audience of our meeting and give her another proclamation at our meeting.”

On Saturday night was the city wide Key West holiday party.

Johnston said, “We just had a great evening, even though the weather was a little inclement, but we all made it out there.”

Mike Stapleford of KeysTalk 96.9/102.5FM noted, “Certainly a thank you is in order for all of the people who make the city go each and every day.”

Keys Energy is in ongoing negotiations right now with the Park and Ride service.

Johnston explained, “Since 1994, I believe was the first lease and the city built the parking garage. I believe it was around a $3 million build. That parking garage is on part of land owned by Keys Energy and part of land owned by the city of Key West. So we had an agreement since 1994, to provide Keys Energy parking spaces, certainly a spot to park when we have a pending hurricane coming in. So we had had that arrangement for 30 years. It expires December 31 of this year. We’ve been in negotiations and been going back and forth on here. The original ask I think was going to put the city of Key West in the red as far as operating that parking garage, which benefits really all of Key West, all the visitors that come into town, as well as we have employee parking passes there for a reduced price that employees, people that are employed in the city of Key West, up and down the keys can purchase. So it really benefits all of our customers as well as the Keys Energy ratepayers. The first pass was pretty steep. I think as we started negotiations, we were able to share information with Keys Energy about actually, who uses that, and where the revenue goes. A considerable amount of the revenue goes to help fund our transportation system, our bus system in the city of Key West, as well as our Lower Keys shuttle. We have high hopes that we can come to an agreement here because that would be a terrible loss for the city of Key West and our visitors and everybody employed in the city of Key West. So we are working diligently to come to an agreement. I think we’re probably going to need an extension in order to come to terms that are agreeable to both sides. But I think we’re both negotiating in good faith. We’ve been good partners over the years and I have I have every expectation that we’re going to be able to work this out.”

City Hall will be closed on Friday this week.

Johnson said, “So if you’ve got business in the city of Key West, please try and get it done before Thursday at five o’clock because we will be closed Friday and we will be closed Monday. We’ll be back open on Tuesday at eight o’clock. Then we will be closed the following Friday and the following Monday in recognition of New Year’s Day. New Year’s Eve is going to be another exciting event. I think we have six drops at New Year’s Eve. So come on down and ring in the New Year with a lot of other people on Duvall Street.”

The State of the City will also be coming up.

Johnston said, “My State of the City right now we’re just formulating it. I’m going to write it over the holiday season. By ordinance, I am required to present that at the first City Commission meeting held in the New Year. So on January 11, I’ll be presenting my State of the City and then what normally happens is I will present it to all the local organizations, the Chamber of Commerce, the Lodging Association, the Key West Association of Realtors, the Rotary Clubs, so it’s going to be a busy season. We’ve got so many good things going on in the city of Key West. If we have an area that we can improve on, it’s really educating and sharing the good news with our community because we are doing so many things. But we’re so busy that one of the things we fail to do is tell you what we’re doing. We do have challenges and I don’t want to minimize those. We want to take them on, head on and we want to work with other communities who have already solved them in order to make life better in the city of Key West and make it a more livable community for everyone.”

There are several ongoing projects still in the works.

Johnston said, “We’ve got some changes in some ordinances that we’re going to take a look at. I know Al has an ordinance, he is taking cleaning up the city of Key West very, very seriously. You’ll notice on North Roosevelt Boulevard right now, the banners are down that we normally have there. We’ve had an ordinance since 1994 that requires anyone wanting to hang up a banner to get city manager approval and we kind of got off track on that. So we’re cleaning up that area to give Key West a better look. He’s trying to get rid of the shopping carts that are being left around on our streets. He’s taking a look at dumpsters, making sure that the dumpsters are not out in public view, that they’re hidden away to really clean up the look of Key West and I think the vast majority of residents certainly appreciate his efforts. So we’ve got some ordinances coming for us to address those issues. We’re going to be taking a look at the T shirts again on Duvall Street this year and what we can do in order to clean up the look of Duvall Street so it’s appropriate for everybody that walks down the street.”