Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Truman Waterfront Commission Meeting

The Truman Waterfront Park Traffic Plan comes before the City Commission/Local Redevelopment Authority tonight in a Special Meeting devoted to only that topic. As the meeting was advertised as a Special Meeting, and not a workshop, the Commission could take action to approve the plan as it stands, but that isn't what is expected. Instead, we expect that the Commission will make one last effort to craft a solution that can satisfy both the Truman Annex Master Property Owners' Association (TAMPOA) and the residents of Bahama Village.

Until now, the only obvious solution has revolved around using Southard St. as an alternative to forcing most of the Park traffic through the narrow, residential streets of Bahama VIllage. The plan before the Commission is the same plan as has been presented by the City's Port Operations Department for approval several times already, the plan that the City's consultants first drafted in late 2004 and early 2005. Some have argued for an eminent domain taking of Southard St. by the City in order to restore that entrance to the Waterfront area as the natural and historic entrance and exit. TAMPOA promises a protracted and expensive legal battle should the City decide to take that approach. The Conceptual Master Plan for the interior of the Park was approved by the Commission on July 11, 2005, but approval of the traffic portions was withheld then, and continues to be withheld now.

Now it appears that at least two other options are available. One involves the use of Eaton St. as an entrance and exit. The other considers Angela Street. In addition, there is a further option that might mitigate traffic through both communities. If the City scales back parking within the Park itself from the currently planned 436 parking spaces, to just a small number necessary to accommodate parking for those who must work in the park, and for residents of the Assisted Living Facility planned for the Park to be built at some future time, then traffic may not be burdensome for any one. Alternative methods of reaching the park would then be considered and integrated into the City's Master Plan and into the planning for the Park.

Tonight's meeting may or may not be contentious, but it is more likely to be so than not. District VI Commissioner Clayton Lopez, a life-long Bahama Village resident himself and in whose District Bahama Village lies, has made a call for residents to turn out in large numbers for the meeting, and to express their opinions to the Commission about the plan and how it should be changed. Without doubt, there will be a large turnout of TAMPOA supporters as well, especially since it is winter and seasonal residents are more likely to be in the City now.

This is an different City Commission now than the one that gave the earlier approvals, and it appears that the five new Commissioners, as well as the two who remain on the board from before recognize the colossal negative impact that the current plan imposes on the City's last real historic neighborhood, and on its residents. I remain optimistic that they will do the right thing, but I remain alert to the possibility that they may not. As Admiral John Paul Jones once famously said, "I have not yet begun to fight". Less familiar, but apropos still, Jones said, "An honorable Peace is and always was my first wish! I can take no delight in the effusion of human Blood; but, if this War should continue, I wish to have the most active part in it."

Here's a link to a Keynoter article on the matter in today's edition. They got the part about which streets are to be most impacted; it's Truman Avenue, not Olivia Street and Petronia Street, that will bear the brunt of traffic. Bit the rest of the article is explanatory. The Key West Citizen also wrote about the meeting in yesterday's paper, but it didn't show up in the on-line version.

The meeting will be telecast on Comcast Channel 77 beginning at 6 PM.

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