Let’s talk about what’s been happening 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.

Preparations are being made for the seaweed mass possibly heading to the Keys.

Johnston said, “It’s an issue that we have been facing for years and sometimes it’s worse than others. The most significant affect it has on the City of Key West is smell.”

The seaweed brings with it a sulfuric, rotten egg kind of smell. Businesses that depend on customers being outside can be highly affected by this.

Johnston said, “Last year we had a couple business owners who came to the city and asked for approval to put a boom out there. It is anticipated to keep that sargassum off the shore, off the beaches and continuing to move along with the current.”

A pilot program was approved for the businesses to put up a boom. It’s still in the planning process.

The City of Key West has been looking at increasing the number of beach clean ups to get the seaweed out.

Affordable housing is still an issue for the city and a Director of Housing and Community Development has been hired.

Johnston said, “Tina comes to us with over 20 years of experience in that arena, not only in affordable rentals, but in affordable home ownership. So she fits right in and she will hit the ground running on April 3. The same day that our new city manager starts. We couldn’t be happier to welcome both of them on board.”

Strategic planning has also been ongoing.

Johnston said, “Almost three years ago we developed our strategic plan. One of the reasons that this plan has been so successful is because we created it. It was the people’s plan. These are our residents’ priorities.”

The goals are being updated in terms of what’s realistic and where should money be put.

On May 4, senior management will meet and decide what will happen in the last year of the plan.

Diversity training will also be included soon.

Johnston said, “We don’t do enough of this. In 2023 we are going to host a diversity training for our senior management levels. The thought process is we train the senior members, they train their department and their entire staff. Diversity is what drives Key West. It’s one of our most unique features is that we are a diverse community. We have to acknowledge that and we have to remind everyone periodically that it’s our diversity that drives us. It’s such an important aspect of Key West and we need to treat everyone with dignity and respect.”

Spring break is in full swing in Key West. While other areas in Florida are seeing violence, Key West is fortunate to not have that issue.

Johnston said, “I don’t know what it is, whether we draw a different crowd to the city of Key West or whether our police department handles our situations in a different manner, but we just have not seen that same scenario. Our major issue is clean up. That’s been our major issue, knock on wood.”