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There is different post today at goodmorningfloridakeys.com, which you should be able to reach by clicking on this link: Monroe County (Florida Keys) needs to choose between continuing to aid and abet Key West torturing its homeless and denying them equal protection under the law at county taxpayers’ considerable expense, and telling Key West to change its ways or sue Monroe County for choosing not to continue being Key West’s accomplice; and Monroe County needs to decide if it is going to fund Key West’s mythical new full-service homeless shelter, the prognosis for which might not be county taxpayers’ money and karma well spent, either. In all events, so much for homeless people being part of Key West’s mythical One Human Family.
Meanwhile, in the Key West Citizen today, my interjected thoughts in italics. I inserted the color ariel silt plume photo the article references but does not provide, nor is it easy to find the color ariel photo on the website provided by the article. The color satellite silt plume photo is in the article.
A provocative image appearing to depict a cruise ship right outside Key West kicking up a silt-storm so large it’s captured in a satellite snapshot is firing up the local debate over channel-widening.
Far as I know, I was the first to publish that image after receiving it from a mole in the Key West city government, whom I don’t dare identify, although I will say it was not an elected city official.
“This is a rare picture of what cruise ships regularly do to our water,” according to Key West Travel Guide, a website company devoted to promoting island life to visitors. “And keep in mind, in 2012, 327 cruise ships arrived in Key West.”
The mole told me it came from Key West’s Travel Guide. If so, Key West’s Travel Guide shopped the photo? Filosa did not have time to check Key West’s Travel Guide before she wrote her article with its obvious slant for the photo being shopped? Did the pro-cruise ship forces take Filosa out for dinner at Antonio’s or Camille’s to discuss how she would deal with that satellite photo?
The white smear purportedly emitting from a vessel is circled in red on the image, which has been posted on social media and emailed by island residents over the past week or so. Fishing guides Gordon Mackey and David Dlugitch say it’s a “silt-plume” caused by the ship chewing through the coral reef.
Critics call it a PhotoShop special, questioning its date and map position as well as whether the vessel is a yacht or cruise ship.
Well, if it was only a yacht, imagine how much more silt plume a cruise ship would have generated. An unfathomable amount more.
But plenty of locals say that white streak is undeniably an example of a silt-plume — as prop-wash blows sediment from the seafloor into the water column, and point to close-up photos and video footage also posted on websites opposing channel dredging.
The political action committee (PAC) working to defeat a Oct. 1 ballot question over studying the impacts of dredging here touts it as red-handed evidence the cruise industry is sullying the ocean.
“In my personal opinion, it’s no doubt that’s a cruise ship,” said Jolly Benson, spokesman for the Key West Committee for Responsible Tourism PAC, which has fanned out anti-dredging flags, bumpers stickers and magnets across the island.
The Google Earth image is merely a mild example of cruise ship-caused silt-plumes, said one veteran flats fishing guide.
“Fine, I’ll give them video evidence,” said Will Benson, Jolly’s brother who’s at the center of the movement against the study.
“When I film this stuff I see a whole lot of silt that shouldn’t be there, mixed in with chunks of sponges and sea fans. I’ve seen a lot worse,” compared to the online image making the rounds, he said.
Will Benson said he has witnessed cruise ships leaving plumes several miles long, as their machinery tears up the fragile coral reef in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.
True, the Google Earth image shows the cruise ship outside Key West’s shipping channel, Benson continued, but it’s not that far from the island.
“It’s a couple of boat lengths,” he said.
The Lower Keys Guides Association has a color photograph of a cruise ship and its silt-plume atwww.lkga.org, where the organization proclaims its opposition to dredging.
“The photo was taken of a cruise ship as it exits Key West Harbor,” the site says.
Here’s that photo, which Will’s father told me about and Matt Gardi extracted it from the viedo on Will’s website the night of the Reef Relief annual meeting, and sent it to me and I published it the next morning. So far, the Citizen has not published it, but today would have been a great time to do it. I can’t get out of my mind the notion that the pro-cruise ship folks somehow got to Filosa. Otherwise, why didn’t she publish this photo today, too, of a cruise ship leaving Key West harbor this past spring?
One former city commissioner wants the city of Key West to post the image in advance of the election as a public service for voters.
“I would strongly suggest that the city put this out for public viewing,” Harry Bethel Sr. wrote to city commissioners in a recent email, attaching the Google Earth snapshot. “That would be the right thing to do so that residents/voters would know exactly what happens when the cruise ships come into port. The referendum coming up is very important.”
Agreed, and also post the photo of a cruise ship leaving Key West, for the same reason. How many times have I tried to persuade the anti-channel-widening and anti-cruise ship folks to use that photo from Will Benson’s website on campaign posters? It is their most graphic ammo, and yet, as far as I know, they are not plastering it all over Key West. Dang, a picture is worth a thousand words!
Voters on Oct. 1 will decide whether to direct the city to order a $3 million feasibility study on the impacts of dredging the Main Ship Channel, to better accommodate “modern, longer cruise ships.”
The pro-study sell is that it’s not a commitment to dredging, although a study is a required step in the Army Corps of Engineers’ operating procedures for a project to break ground.
In 2010, the Corps delivered a reconnaissance study that concluded:
“This project is anticipated to have a significant negative effect on environmental quality. Widening the channel would have significant and negative effects on an unspecified amount of coral lightly distributed over approximately 17 acres. The project would also have negative effects on an unspecified amount of critical environmental habitat. Increased cruise traffic, as with an increase in any waterborne commerce, would likely also cause an increase in water pollution and turbidity.”
Key West wouldn’t have to foot its share of the study’s cost, about $750,000, the Greater Key West Chamber of Commerce PAC says, because private donors would cover it. The rest would be paid by the state and federal government.
And it’s “just a study,” business advocates such as Scott Saunders, attorney Jennifer Hulse and Ed Swift keep repeating to voters, while the other side says a “yes” vote would put Key West on the track to dredging.
Ed Swift owns Historic Tours of America, which runs conch trains and trolleys in Key West, which get heaps of cruise ship passenger business. How come Filosa didn’t mention that, or that Hulse is the Chamber PAC’s attorney?
The city’s cruise ship passenger numbers have been declining over the past several years, the pro-study camp says, and Key West’s economy would take a blow if it lost the estimated $87 million a year spent by the annual 800,000 cruise tourists.
Approving the $3 million study this fall is a way to get ahead of the economic curve, the chamber PAC says.
As in, widen the channel so bigger and more cruise ships can call on Key West, it’s only just a study, pants on fire!
A third PAC, the Key West Seaport Alliance, founded by Bob Maguire of the Bar Pilots Association and consultant John Dolan-Heitlinger, say dredging is required to keep the island in the tourist business.
More pants on fire! Cruise ship business is a small part of Key West’s tourist business, but it probably is a very big part of the Bar Pilots Association tourist business.
At a recent forum in Key West, Dolan-Heitlinger blamed winds and storms, rather than cruise ships, for more siltation, drawing Jolly Benson to tick off the weekly cruise ship schedule.
Swim this recent photo up your derriere, Dolan-Heitlinger,
and this photo from the latish 1990s.
Also in the Key West Citizen today, an Editorial Board editorial banging the idea of 2-way traffic on N Roosevelt Blvd, my interjected thoughts in italics. I supplied any pics.
Is the city of Key West being led into the land of unknown and unintended consequences by a few malcontents?
You asshole, the malcontents are N Roosevelt business owners who have gone out of business, or are about to go out of business, or are loosing heaps of business but might or will somehow survive the N Roosevelt construction. They don’t want their employees, or themselves, to end up homeless. This grim situation came about because you and your confederacy of other dunces on the Editorial Board, and the like confederacy of dunces in City Hall, and, yes, the like confederacy of the N Roosevelt Blvd business owner dunces all were sound asleep at the switch when the City Commission and Florida Department of Transportation decided it was more important not to disturb the N Roosevelt Blvd residential neighborhoods at night, than it was to use two and even three work shifts a day to get the work done in less than a year, instead of the still promised 820 days, which may or may not turn out to be 820 days.
Recently, Florida Department of Transportation Secretary Ananth Prasad agreed to allow two-way traffic on North Roosevelt Boulevard — without a turn lane — starting immediately after Labor Day.
The surprising announcement came at recent town-hall style meeting that deteriorated into a shouting match with a couple of local gadflies and City Commissioner Tony Yaniz insulting Prasad.
I was one of the local gadflies. I insulted Prasad when he started talking to one of his underlings while I was taking my allotted citizen turn to ask him two questions, which he danced all around until I insulted him further and he finally admitted the reason the N Roosevelt work was not put out for a round the clock bid, instead of a one shift a day bid, was because of the noise disturbing the N Roosevelt neighborhoods. Ergo, the City Commission was in on that decision to put the work out for one shift a day, instead of round the clock. Filosa knows this, but has yet to report it. She knows this, because I explained it to her in the Town Hall meeting, and she said she got it and she thanked me.
The group included North Roosevelt business owners who pressured Prasad, saying the one-way traffic pattern is driving down revenues, putting people out of work and even closing businesses.
The change is in direct contrast to the official FDOT plan and recommendations. FDOT has maintained that a two-way traffic pattern has never worked in any other community during this type of road reconstruction project.
According to FDOT plans, two-way traffic, with a turn lane, was scheduled to resume from Jose Marti to Kennedy Drive on Dec. 23.
The entire project was projected to have two-way traffic including a turn lane by March 15, 2014, and by June 30 all lanes would be open, though subject to periodic closures until the project was fully completed.
Additionally, Prasad promised that the project would be completed on time, as originally planned, on July 21, 2014, and not the recently indicated September 2014 date.
City officials and the FDOT contractor the de Moya Group, in part, helped facilitate the return to the original completion date. The city agreed to allow extended construction hours and the de Moya Group will add construction crews and equipment.
See, the city could have agreed to allow extended construction hours from the get go.
To put this all in perspective, the initial construction schedule was totally revamped in 2011 in response to local officials who urged FDOT to complete the project as soon as possible.
The schedule was reduced by a year to the current 820 days. However, the accelerated schedule required a change from a two-way traffic pattern with a turning lane to one-way traffic by detouring all outgoing traffic to Flagler Avenue and South Roosevelt Boulevard.
Either approach was a bitter pill for businesses along North Roosevelt to swallow.
From the onset these businesses fought to retain two-way traffic, an accelerated construction schedule and easy access to their entrances. They point to the relatively smooth flowing two-lane section from Eisenhower to Palm Avenue as proof of their demands.
They have accused FDOT of spreading misleading information, lacking proper traffic studies and generally mismanaging the project.
It looks like the business owners got their wish, for on Aug. 9 the FDOT website officially announced: “Traffic on North Roosevelt Boulevard is scheduled to switch to one lane in each direction by Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2013. Drivers are encouraged to be patient and courteous and expect delays.”
But is this change good for the rest of us?
Enter Mayor Craig Cates, expressing concern that this change occurred without consensus of the City Commission or the community at large. Stating public safety as the priority, Cates plans to revisit the issue with the commission on Tuesday via a resolution co-sponsored by Commissioner Mark Rossi.
We don’t pretend to be traffic experts; however, two-way traffic without a turning lane in the most heavily traveled portion of North Roosevelt between the Triangle and Palm Avenue looks like a recipe for disaster.
The two lanes in question are narrow, potholed, flood-prone and riddled with blind curves obscuring entering traffic.
These physical limitations coupled with rush-hour traffic and peppered with scores of tourists unfamiliar with the road can only lead to massive gridlock, potential collisions and hindered emergency vehicles.
“Patience and courtesy” can only go so far in preventing accidents and saving lives.
Yep, all true as far as I can see, and Mayor Cates and the six city commissioners all knew that at the town hall meeting and they didn’t say a word about it until the next day or maybe even later, after their silence at the town hall meeting had led the N Roosevelt Blvd business owners believe the 2-way traffic was a done deal. Eric Geen and I agreed at the town hall meeting, 2-way trafffic on upper N Roosevelt will cause big traffic delays, and it will make inbound left turns hazardous, and it will make traffic coming out of businesses and turning left into inbound traffic hazardous. Not to mention morning rush hour inbound traffic stacking up a couple of more miles above Key West, which should make lost of commuting workers and their bosses happy. No chance of road rage in a city as politically correct as Key West.
Though FDOT hasn’t always proven to be an effective partner to the city during this construction; we agree with Cates. The commission should not have allowed public safety to be hijacked by a vocal few bent on enhancing their self-interests.
– The Citizen
You asshole, they are bent on saving their businesses. They don’t want their employees, or themselves, to end up homeless. Unfortunately for them, that may be unavoidable even with 2-lane traffic, which I don’t see being the panacea they imagine it to be. And, yes, the city cannot do something that will make traffic, and life, a whole lot worse for thousands of people who live in Key West, or commute to Key West to work or play. Prasad said at the town hall meeting that 2-way traffic had not worked in similar situations in FDOT jobs on the mainland. The relief has to come from much faster work, and that might not be soon enough for some of the remaining N Roosevelt businesses.
On same topic, an article in Key West the Newspaper this week:
BY SLOAN BASHINSKY
Maybe six weeks ago, I ran into former Key West city commissioner Barry Gibson, who told me his one regret as a city commissioner was he did not hold out for a faster work schedule on N Roosevelt Blvd. He said he would have been only one vote, but he wished he had held out.
When I later shared that conversation with other people in Key West, including an assistant city manager, they said that was the first they’d heard the city had any say in how fast the N Roosevelt Blvd work could have been done. Hold that thought. [...full article]