Let’s review the first Key West City Commission meeting of the new year…

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 first city commission meeting of the year happened last week and included the State of the City address.

Johnston said, “A State of the City address, this can go anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour and I brought forward a little different State of the City address this year, it was 16 minutes and five seconds. So much of our time in the State of the City address is to recognize our employees who have done an outstanding job. We’ve got 523 hard working associates here in the city of Key West. But Al Childress along with Dorian Patton, the Special Projects Manager put together a 70 page booklet highlighting every one of our 15 departments, the people in it, their accomplishments, what they’re working towards, some facts and figures regarding our finances and, and the makeup of our community. So instead of being redundant, I went into some different areas this year, and I thought it was a really appropriate because we spend a lot of time in the city of Key West, focusing on our tourism and our profits and things of that nature. I’ve often said we were a community long before we were a tourist destination. So I focused on our people, and the types of things that we are doing both well in Key West to make it more livable community, and also things that we’ve got a lot of work to do and I highlighted those. I think that’s what makes a good community and that’s what moves us forward is not only to celebrate our accomplishments, but to take a real critical eye at what we’ve got yet to improve on and really knuckle down and get it done.”

The commission meeting agenda was quite full.

Johnston said, “We moved forward several agenda items, and several of them have to do with accessory dwelling units, which we have battered around for a lot of years. There’s a lot of things that we’ve got to have correct before we address an ordinance there. Because AD units, accessory dwelling units are wonderful. They’re wonderful for people who want to stay in their home, and would like to bring in some extra income or house their mother or elderly father on their property. But also there’s other aspects of it, when we reduce our side and rear setbacks, you’re basically putting a 30 story structure potentially five feet from somebody else’s property. So I think we have to be sensitive to both sides there and move the needle forward, but do it with consideration for all your neighbors. We are certainly doing that. We passed a couple of ordinances on the first reading, but with a direction to our city attorney and city manager to make changes to get planning involved because we need a great deal of conversations between planning, building, HARC, all of our different departments. So we passed a couple of those through. I am so proud to say though, that we also approved our very first all electric bus for the city of Key West. So that’s on order. So we’re moving forward on a lot of different aspects. DuVall Street revitalization, Mallory Square revitalization, revitalization of our southern most point, and many of these revitalizations have to do with sea level rise and climate change. The southernmost point is underwater, through many major and minor weather events. So we would like to improve that, bring it up, create more seating, create more landscaping, and for that one block make it one way so we don’t have people coming and going on that very busy street where we have a whole lot of pedestrians standing out on the cobblestone street to take pictures. So trying to do a lot of things down there and the rendition of the southernmost point is just the most beautiful rendition I’ve ever seen. So we’re moving forward on that. Got a lot of things on our agenda for 2024.”

Celebrating Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is important in Key West.

Johnston said, “It’s a wonderful celebration and remembrance of a man who really tried to stamp out hate. I heard Clayton on the radio this morning and he was saying that he feels that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. might be a little disappointed if he took a look at the world in our current condition. So it’s something that we can all improve on. It’s something that we can all contribute to being a closer knit world and community. I just think it’s a wonderful time to remember a great man who did so much for our world.”

This year will also be a time for the mayor to consider a possible reelection.

Johnston said, “Yes, I am and thank you so much for mentioning that. We couldn’t we couldn’t share our information with the public if we didn’t have outlets like you. You and Diana have been wonderful and very community oriented. That’s how you get out the correct information.”

Mike Stapleford of KeysTalk 96.9/102.5FM said, “Well, certainly we want to give a platform to people such as you. You spend so much time working hard on behalf of the constituents and we want to facilitate getting the word out to listeners all the way up and down the Keys and especially in Key West. So thank you for all that you do.”

Johnston reminded, “Just take a little time today and reflect on Dr. King’s words, if you would, because they’re very impactful. If we could live every single day, just by instituting a couple of his beliefs, we would have a much better world.”