Let’s talk about the Garrison Bight rate in Key West

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 Garrison Bight Marina rate increase has been put on hold.

Johnston said, “As you know, on Thursday night, we listened to 25 speakers for about an hour and 15 minutes. It’s kind of interesting, and I’m sure staff is somewhat confused, because in September, that rate increase was approved 7-0 and according to our port director, there have been previous meetings with representatives from Garrison Bight, so I’m sure staff was somewhat confused the other night when 25 people came out to speak against it. When we put through that increase in September, we did it with a six month glide path to make sure that everyone was aware of it, that everyone could accommodate it. We increased the per foot charge for part time residents in Garrison Bight and we decreased the rates for full time residents, to really focus on our full time residents who may be employed in the community or may not, but they’re full time residents, which I was a pretty good thought process. Apparently, the individuals at Garrison Bight when they got back into town did not feel that that was equitable. So, we’re going to sit down one more time, and we’re going to give it 90 days and have staff sit down, meet with the representatives from Garrison Bight and see what we can work out. As you know, housing is our number one strategic planning issue and we’ve got lots of people within the community, whether you’re on the water or you’re on land, housing is a premium in the city of Key West, there’s no doubt about it. So we are going to be addressing housing issues I’m sure you know, until the end of time so I have every confidence that city staff will work out some sort of an agreement with Garrison Bight and we will move forward but that’s kind of democracy at its finest. You legislate, you listen to the people, you try and come to common ground and then you move forward and that’s I’m sure what we’re going to do at Garrison Bight.”

FDOT is looking to possibly replace palm trees along North Roosevelt with guardrails.

Johnston said, “As they do their design, they did request to add guard rails, in fact, two sets of guard rails. I think this comes down one more time to FDOT is used to designing roads and sidewalks in other areas in the state of Florida and Key West is very unique. I don’t even know when we’ve had a guardrail up there. When we went through North Roosevelt Boulevard construction, we did not have a guardrail up there. The Chamber of Commerce certainly assisted with objecting to that. We did check with the police. It’s not a high accident area, don’t have a lot of people going over the wall and into the water. The Commission gave senior management really strong direction to our city manager that, no, we do not want to remove those palms. I think one of the bigger travesties is the fact that they keep putting those bicycle sharrows out in the active lane of traffic and saying, this is where your bicycle riders should ride. Time after time after time, we have implored FDOT to come down and please just stand on North Roosevelt Boulevard for a half hour, you would see that it is not safe. In fact, it’s highly dangerous for a bicycle to get out into an active lane of traffic on North Roosevelt Boulevard. So we need dedicated bicycle lanes all over the city. We’ve asked people to get out of their cars, either walk or bike Key West to make it less congested. But to do that, we need dedicated bicycle lanes that are going to keep our bicycle riders, our E-bike riders, our scooter riders, all of those riders safe in the city of Key West. So we’ve got some work to do there. There’s no doubt about it.”

The bond issue was passed at the most recent commission meeting.

Johnston said, “We’re going to have public workshops. We will have public education on the bond issue. But that is one of the most impactful things that we are going to do on this commission is if we can get that bond referendum passed through our public, it is going to make an incredible difference in our community, in the infrastructure, in the roads. When I first started on the commission, our road budget or to repair our roads was about $2,000,000 and that took care of a lot of roads and sidewalks. Let me put that into perspective. United Street cost about $707,000 a block in order to repair the road, put up curbs and gutters and sidewalks. It’s just an unbelievable increase in road construction and sidewalk construction and it’s one of our greatest concerns of our residents is to have good roads, good sidewalks, dedicated bicycle lanes in order to traverse Key West and we just can’t do it with the money we’ve got right now.”

The Key West City Commission came out against the state’s attempt to dictate what flags can be flown.

Johnston said, “We’re okay for another year. That was dropped off the radar. But these things continue to appear every legislative session. So it’s something that hopefully the legislators will tackle some more important issues other than flags, like windstorm insurance, flood insurance, housing, sea level rise.”