Friday, March 26, 2004

Bahama Village, and other things .....

I read a column at the Citizen web site this morning, one I missed when it was first published on March 22. In truth, there were several interesting things in the Citizen this morning, but the one I refer to is this one.

Ralph Morrow is the business editor of the citizen. He reports on business news of interest to the community, but his main vehicle, the one I most look forward to, is the column that he produces weekly. The column frequently takes the interview form, sub-headed "A Conversation With ...".

The conversation with Moodie and Chapman illustrates, at several levels, some of the key opportunities facing the City of Key West in the near future -- and some of the problems that will have to be dealt with if those opportunities are to be realized.

I don't know Moodie or Chapman, although I recognize Moodie's name from previous mentions in the Citizen and other papers. Morrow's column put some flesh on Moodie's bones (speaking metaphorically, or course) for me. I recognize him as an archetype, the Key West Conch who has created a business that appears to support him and his family, who stays true to the Bahama Village community in which he grew up and prospered, and who has a vision of how to continue to prosper in the Key West that will be in the next 5, 10, 25 years. There are others of that sort. I hope to be able to write about some of them in the future.

As do most of the residents of the Village, Moodie knows that one of the reasons -- in fact, the major reason -- that many tourists don't venture onto Petronia Street is the reputation that Bahama Village has of being "not safe". I've written about that here in the past, and have taken part in discussions about it at the It's Only Key West forums.

When the new entrance to the Waterfront property opens at the end of Petronia Street, Key West is likely to have a new main thoroughfare, an alternative to lower Duval Street. That's going to put enormous pressures on the neighborhood and on Bahama Village. The pressures will be economic, social and cultural. How they are dealt with will be an indicator of 'whither goest' all of Key West.

For another perspective on this, read this column by Rosalind Brackenbury. Rosalind is a true "Key West writer", following in the footsteps of those many who claimed that mantle over the years. I don't know her either (although I might have met her once when I went to a session of the KW Writers Guild in the garden of the Heritage House). I was pleasantly surprised to find her column on the Citizen site this morning.

I see that the Council is getting ready to appoint the study committee that is following on from the Mayor's Comprehensive Resident/Visitor Plan Roadmap. Who gets named to the committee will say much about the outcome of the committee's work. Look for balance. An imbalance in either direction, for or against increased tourism, for or against residents' interests, will be a strong indicator of where the powers intend for us to go.

We're at 51 days and counting. Everything is going well, we're on plan and on schedule. We're getting together with Janet's O'Brien family this weekend, and with the Kellys on May 1.

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