Sunday, January 02, 2005

Sunday Out and About

After having breakfast at the Coffee Plantation with Janet this morning, and after Bible study with Phil and Sharon, I decided to take my bicycle and travel in old town to see what was going on. I had to go by the post office anyway to check our box there, so I continued on down Whitehead Street to Mallory Square. There are two large cruise ships in for most of the day, so Duval Street is crowded. I spotted one performance artist at work on Duval St., in the 200 block near the Hog's Breath. He's the guy who dresses like a pirate, stands in a rum keg platform, and panhandles. I think that panhandling is prohibited there, not that it makes much difference. Mallory Square was pretty much deserted expect for the usual gaggle of homeless who hang out there during the day. One ship was at the Mallory dock, the other at the outer mole. The inner channel is being dredged now, so there is a dredge and a barge tied up almost directly in front of Pier B, the Hilton Pier.

I rode from Mallory Square across the Hilton Pier and exited back on to Greene St. from behind the Hilton garage. Passing old City Hall, I noted another usual gaggle of homeless sitting on the steps there. Continuing down Greene and Lazy Way, I chained the bicycle and walked into Schooner Wharf, chatted for a while with Mary Anne, helped an older gentleman who lives on his boat anchored out remove some wireless software from his Gateway laptop. We played around for a while trying to get access to one of the wireless nets that now show up in that area, but it seems like they've all put some kind of protection on those networks. Mary Anne wanted to have a look at the SWB web cam, but I wasn't able to get it for her. Later on, using an anonymous wireless access point that showed up in the less, I was able to get on the internet for a few minutes and watch the web cam as it showed what was unfolding right in front of me any way.

We dropped by Schooner's on New Years Eve before moving on to the Green Parrot. They were showing a video of the bight and its boats on a large screen hung on the side of the storage building that's part of the Jabour R/V park property being developed as Watermark. I heard the other day that demolition is scheduled to begin at Jabour's on January 15th. The matter of the Watermark development isn't completely settled yet. There are interveners, some of them neighbors, who continue to litigate the design as being too massive and out of scale with the rest of the waterfront. The developers bought out two abutting property owners just before a hearing by the City's special master, a sort of judge who hears cases brought by or against the city, with authority to decide cases, levy fines, and require compliance with ordinances. The remaining opponents are arguing against the current design as a matter of non-compliance with the city's charter and regulations, rather than alleging personal damage to their own properties. I think that the opponents are right, that the project will overwhelm the bight and change it in some fundamental ways. I also think that the project will eventually proceed. At stake is a property of 32 residential units, all pre-sold for multi-millions of dollars, and all with transient rental rights transferred from the R/V park.

So, there are lots of tourists. It's been busy since Christmas Day. The merchants are happy as sales go up, the better to pay off some of the debt run up during the four hurricanes that threatened us in the fall and kept tourists away. Tourists can be an aggravation to any one who lives here, but there is no doubt that they are the fuel that keeps the economic engine running here. Some of them are interesting, and we don't mind them as much as we do those who feel their dollars entitle them to act like dolts. The crew on duty at SWB today seemed particularly stressed out. The place must have more than its share of dolts.

Oh yeah, there's one other thing I've been noticing. This is the time of year when the sewers begin to stink --noticeably. I wonder if that has anything to do with the tourists. Ya think?

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