Friday, January 27, 2006

Good news and Bad news

Some things occurred this week that I think are good for the City. A couple of them are:

- The Key West Citizen reports on the Watermark project at the Key West Bight. It appears that a citizens' group has won its battle to prevent developers from building four-story luxury residences that would loom over that area of the Bight, around Schooner Wharf, and also over Caroline St., Elizabeth St., and William St. Developers are already redesigning the project to make it fit in to its surrounding neighborhood better.

- The Monroe County School Board finally got an offer from the State of Florida it couldn't refuse for the Harris School property on Southard St. The School District will sell the historic school tot he State, which will then lease it to the Rodel Foundation which will renovate it and turn it into an artists' colony of sorts, with affordable housing and artists' workspaces on site. The site will also house a culinary institute intended to train young chefs for employment in the cooking arts. The decision closes the door on any possibility of Harris School becoming Key West's new City Hall location. That's a good thing. It was never a good location, situated in a residential neighborhood.

On a sad note, a 41-year old policeman in the KWPD died of a heart attack while jogging with the PD's Special Response Team. John Piskator, one of the original bicycle patrol officers assigned to Bahama Village, had only recently been promoted to detective. He was a most unlikely candidate for a heart attack, young, an Army Ranger. Piskator packed a lot of accomplishment into his 41 years. His funeral will be tomorrow morning at Saint Mary's church, preceded by a procession of his police brothers and other mourners. The obituary is here.

There's a letter in the Citizen today from a resident of The Shipyard about the TAMPOA lawsuit. The writer bemoans that it was necessary for TAMPOA to file suit against the City, and expresses sympathy for Bahama Village residents. He's right in some of what he says, but what struck me most was his observation that he occupies his unit only three months out of the year. It is vacant the rest of the year. He may not even realize that he's contributing to the shortage of housing and increasing rents that are denying housing to those who live here year round.

Solares Hill, which is only available as a PDF file of the entire paper, has some excellent articles on the occasion of the "retirement" of David Ethridge as editor. He's not retiring completely, however. He'll take on a new position as ombudsman for the Key West Citizen. Mark Howell also has a report on the recent HARC meeting at which changes to the HARC ordinances were discussed. That meeting occurred at the same time the appeals court was slapping down the HARC decision to allow the Watermark to be built at four stories.

Dennis Reeves Cooper has an Opinion column in the Blue Paper, KWTN, on the TAMPOA lawsuit. I'm working on a project to restore KWTN to the internet. The last time that happened with any regularity was in 2003 or 2003. Even the archives of KWTN, the remnants of what was being posted back then, are interesting. I'd like to see all the news printed since then wind up in a 'net-based archive at some point.

Now it's noon. I have some errands to run on the Boulevard to pick up some things for our dinner with Jeff and Geoff tonight.

I may come back on later.

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