While the Keys is entering the rainy season, the city is working on mitigating drainage issues

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

The Keys have definitely entered the rainy season and flooding on Front Street is the result. The city is working on mitigating the drainage issues. 

Johnston said, “That’s part of our Duvall Street revitalization. The major part of that really is stormwater drainage because the lower three blocks of Duvall and of course then it veers off onto Front Street flood with any considerable rain. We’ve got a lot of businesses down there we need to take care of. It’s a high tourist area. That is a major part of our Duvall Street development revitalization which is moving along. 

Manhole covers on Flagler have also been in the news. 

Johnston said, “I just want to give everyone an update. Our assistant city manager reached out to the Monroe County engineering department. Flagler Avenue is a Monroe County Street. Right now they’re aware of the issue and they’re just waiting for parts to repair those manhole covers and bring them up to the same surface level as the rest of the streets. So there is help in sight.” 

Diana Nyad will be celebrated as well. 

Johnston said, “Her historic swim from Cuba. And it’s now been if you can believe it, 10 years. In fact, it was 10 years on September 2. But we had so much going on and Diana was so busy, but we are going to honor her 10 years swim in Key West on October 21. We’re still working out the details, but we’re going to have something out at Smathers beach in the morning to commemorate her historic swim, and then we’re going to have a reception or dinner that evening. We’ll get the details out to the city very, very quickly, as we come up with the final details, but we are going to honor her historic 10 year swim this year.”

We are halfway through hurricane season. 

Johnston said, “October has always been a very active month for us. So we want to make sure that everybody stays vigilant, has your plans in order and all of your supplies because we’ve still got all of October and all of November to go through.”

There were a number of meetings last week. 

Johnston said, “If you remember we did not have an August meeting. So we had two months of business in order to conduct and we got it done. We had a lengthy morning meeting and then we had the groundbreaking out of the 3.2 the Lofts at Bahama Village. We had that groundbreaking and we came right back at three o’clock and reconvened and we got all of our business taken care of. Our next city commission meeting will be October 12. We’ve got a lot of things going on and there’s a lot of time sensitive things that we need to get on our agenda and approved so that we can keep the city moving, which we’ve been doing a great job of.”

The collective bargaining agreement was approved by the membership. 

Johnston said, “We got through that with flying colors. Many other communities are really struggling with those types of things. But we came to an acceptable agreement not only with the union, but with the city of Key West and we’re moving forward. We approved the budget. We are we are adding seven new positions. Five of those are in life safety, in our police and our fire department. We do have such a robust tourism environment, because people feel safe in the city of Key West. They felt safe during COVID they feel safe now. Part of that is due to an amazing fire department and police department that just keeps things moving along seamlessly, certainly not seamless behind the scenes but seamless to our residents and to our tourists to keep people safe both in the fire and the police area. Those are those are two really, really great milestones in the city of Key West.”

Golf cart parking was also discussed. 

Johnston said, “We’ve got just an explosion of golf carts in the city of Key West. So we’re trying to get two golf carts in every one parking spot so that we can again, keep everybody happy, park safely. So we’re doing a one year pilot trial program on Elizabeth Street. We are repainting them, putting up new signage. We’re trying to see if that can park our golf carts two in one spot and still leave enough parking for our regular sized vehicles and our bicycles. So we’re trying to manage everything that comes into the city of Key West right now.”

The American Cruise Lines also made a presentation. 

Johnston said, “The Commission approved those. It’s actually a 241 foot vessel. It’s kind of like a large cabin cruiser. It has 109 passengers and 50 crew members. We’re going to be welcoming them, if we can come to an agreement with them, into the city of Key West three times in December, which is exactly the type of vessel that our three referendums were asking for.”

Mike Stapleford of KeysTalk 96.9/102.5FM noted, “I wanted to once again commend our fine police department and fire and rescue personnel. This is a place where I think people can feel safe, whether they’re residents or visitors. It is a place I think that has as a tourist destination Key West has the reputation of being somewhere where you can just walk down the street and feel at ease. There’s not a lot of tourist destinations worldwide that that really is the way it is but it is here. Thank you very much to your leadership, Chief Brandenberg, the fire rescue people, everybody banding together to make sure that that happens, even though there’s a lot of responsibility with a lot of additional people here every day.”

Johnston said, “Last week, we participated in an exercise for mass casualties. None of these things happen by happenstance. They happen by preparation and practice. So last week, we had the Coast Guard, NAS Key West, Lower Keys Medical Center, the Key West Police Department, Monroe County Sheriff’s Department, the FBI, Fish and Wildlife and the Monroe County Fire and Rescue, all participated in a mass casualty event. Because we are a small community. We’re three hours away from any major medical center and we want to make sure that we are prepared for anything that could come our way. So that’s what we do.”