Sunday, July 03, 2005

Commissioner District VI

City Commission District VI in Key West includes Bahama Village and the area surrounding the Cemetery. There's a map here (requires a fast internet connection and Adobe Viewer).

Carmen Turner has been Commissioner for this district for almost ten years. Turner is not running for reelection. The District VI seat is one of four that will be elected in October (or November if there's a run-off election required, if no candidate wins at least 50% of the October vote).

There are two declared candidates for District VI Commissioner. They are restaurant owner Robert Cobb and Health Department worker Clayton Lopez. There is another potential candidate, James Sutton, but he hasn't declared or filed yet.

Whoever winds up in the District VI seat, there are several significant issues that they (and the rest of the Commission) will have to deal with. Among them are: crime control; gentrification and its impact on affordable housing and the historic culture of the District; opening of the Truman Waterfront Park and its affect on traffic; and economic development within the District.

District VI, perhaps more than any other, is undergoing a transformation brought on by turnover of housing properties under the pressure of ever higher sales prices. Although once the historically black district, it is now common wisdom that it is now a predominately white neighborhood, by 65% to 35%. All around the District, housing is being upgraded, or torn down and rebuilt.

Terry Lane, between us and the Key West Lighthouse, is a good example, Only two blocks long, between Truman Avenue and Petronia Street, Terry Lane has undergone substantial gentrification already, and it continues apace. At the moment, three more properties, here, and here, and here, are being actively marketed for sale, and a fourth was recently sold and is being vacated for redevelopment in the near future.

As I rode through Bahama Village the other day on my way to the municipal pool, I noticed that there are several public housing projects situated between Fort and Emma Streets. There are also projects located on Whitehead Street. I'm a child of the projects myself, having grown up in two of the them in Cambridge, MA in my pre-adolescence. It caught my interest so I went to the Key West Housing Authority in the Senior Housing Plaza on Kennedy Boulevard to make some inquiries. I have an annual report from KWHA which I'll be looking at over the next few days. Afterwards, I may have something more to say about them.

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