Key West Mayor Teri Johnston joined Good Morning Keys on KeysTalk 96.9/102.5FM this morning to talk a bout what’s going on in the city.
There was a meeting with the Lodging Association last Thursday.
Johnston said, “I presented the state of the city to the Lodging Association during their noon luncheon and we had a really lively good discussion. Earlier on in the week, we had our TDC meeting, Tourist Development Committee meeting in Key Largo. I just want to report that the TDC is moving along very smoothly. I know we had some hiccups, and we’ve got some audits going on right now, but I will tell you, it appears that the staff and the county have stepped in and it is it is running very smoothly. On Saturday, we opened up Little Conch Baseball out at Clayton Sterling field. We had 400 young boys and men who are participating in the league this year. And also this week we opened up the girls recreational softball league, and that had 230 little girls and young women who are participating this year. So we got the sports rolling and on Wednesday night, we had a terrific meeting down at San Carlos on Duvall Street. That was our first open public session for the Duvall Street. We have two projects going on on Duvall Street, one underground, which I don’t think there’s anybody in Key West that doesn’t understand that we’ve got to make some critical moves there to make sure that Duvall Street stays our iconic street. So we will be doing some sustainability, some drainage work on Duvall Street and also above ground. The 200 people, many of them were residents who weighed in on what they would like to see on Duvall Street. Clearly we need shade. We’re getting hotter and hotter and hotter. If you’ve ever been down to Duvall Street at about two o’clock in the afternoon, you will know that it’s almost unbearable. It’s time that we made some upgrades there. We have not done anything significant on Duvall Street for well over 53 years. So it’s time that we upgrade the streets, we make them more adaptable if we want to close him down for a pedestrian mall or pedestrian blocks, we need places to sit in the shade. We need public restrooms. We need water fountains. There’s so many things that we could do to make that a more enjoyable experience on Duvall Street to bring our residents back to Duvall Street and also keep our guests happy on Duvall Street. So it was a great meeting.”
What’s been going on with the TDC?
Johnston said, “We meet monthly in the TDC and we have about a two hour meeting with the executive board. I will tell you we’re not missing a beat. We’re moving forward, the advertising plans are moving forward, numbers look good all across the board. So I just want to assure everyone that although there are audits in the process right now, that the TDC staff and with help from Monroe County, particularly, are just working great with the TDC and everything looks like it’s coming off like clockwork.”
How is the early legislative session going along?
Johnston said, “We’ve got some bills that we’re very concerned about, and two of them are actually going to be on our agenda on Thursday night at our City Commission meeting. The first one is there’s a bill going through that would disband Citizen Review Boards. We work very hard to get a citizen review board in the city of Key West. They function very well, very cohesively with our police department. So we are going to have a resolution objecting to Senate Bill 576 and House Bill 601. We would like to keep our citizen review board. Also we’ve got a second bill that we want to defeat. That’s Senate Bill 1526, and House Bill 1647. That’s preventing the demolition of certain structures within a half a mile of the coastline. That’s an area that we’re very concerned that would impact many of our historic structures, since everything that we have is within half mile of the coastline almost. So we’re sending an objection on those two bills up to our Senator, and our Representative and the rest of the important legislators in Tallahassee.”
Where will the next State of the City address be heard?
Johnston said, “On Wednesday, at the noon luncheon for the Key West Business Guild I’ll be giving the State of the City address. So we’re preparing that, making some modifications. We make modifications in every one of our presentations to make sure that they are germane to the organization that we’re speaking to, but it’s good to get the information out. It’s good to hear the questions from each one of those organizations that represent a little different slice of Key West. It’s just great for me to hear the concerns of those groups so that we make sure that we are a representative government representing each one of those organizations.”
There will be a new park and ride agreement in front of city council.
Johnston said, “Again, the city will be paying $250,000 a year to Keys Energy and we will have to take a look when we get into the budget process in March, whether that impacts any other areas of the city of Key West since we do not have a revenue source to make that up. So, hopefully we will not have to raise taxes, but we’re going to have to take a really hard look at that.”
Martin Luther King Pool will have some repairs on the pool deck.
Johnston said, “Also the John Jones Navigational Center, our center that provides services for our homeless, we are awarding that to a local company Key Star Construction, so we’ll be getting construction on that right away. Smathers Beach pavilions we are working on. We are adding a solar feature to the Douglas Community Center Project. That will assure that the building is self sustaining and that it’s not a draw on our residence for years to come. We are going to also commend Tom Callahan from the SOS mission for all his work that he’s done in the city of Key West. Also its Elizabeth Bishop Day, a well known poet that has helped put Key West on the map. Then we have our afternoon session at five o’clock and we’ve got nine items there. It should be a pretty easy afternoon session for us because of those nine, six are second readings. Normally during a second reading, if there are no changes to it, it flies through. Many times on the first reading, we like most of the bill, but we want to see some modifications in it so that we ask that modifications are made and we come back and discuss those but it should be a pretty smooth sailing City Commission meeting.”