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The move to Key West yesterday came off without a hitch. The closing went smootly, the wire transfer of the sales proceeds went as promised, I completed moving my stuff to my new digs, I made the rounds of the utility companies and got my name off their records, I had a nice early dinner at Salute, I got a new bicycle, I went to K-Mart and picked up a few things I needed, and then I went to Regal Cinema to see a movie, only to realize after sitting through about fifteen minutes of shorts that I had seen the movie last week: “Mortal Instruments: City of Bones”. I left the movie, was given a pass to see any other movie I wish to see, and went to my new home and finished unpacking and took what I didn’t need back to my SUV. I brought way more stuff than there is room for it in the small room where I will stay for a month. A larger room with its own adjacent bath opens up October 1. I think maybe this is the 4th time I have stayed in this home, which now has internet service. Had a great conversation yesterday afternoon with the owner and the one renter I have known for about ten years. Turned in early. Was turned every which a way but loose in dreams. Awoke a little before 5 a.m., thinking I need to be really, really careful. I have no cue what is coming down and missteps could be easy to make and consequences rough to endure.
City of Bones … Key West is known as the city of bones – Cayo Hueso. I din’t want to see that movie again. I was shocked that I didn’t remember its name and that I had already seen it, when it finally came on and right away I realized I had seen it before. There is something very important there for me. Either, I’m going to experience a re-run of my past trysts in Key West, or something entirely new is coming in. It’s about 5:15 a.m. now. I’m looking at some stuff in the Key West Citizen, today and yesterday which might be fodder for today’s post. But after my dreams so far tonight, I’m totally spooked and am reluctant to write any further at this juncture. Maybe I will be able to get some more sleep, get a better sense of what is going on and why I feel totally surrounded.
So, I was able to go back to sleep, and ensuing dreams did not clear the fog. A subsequent phone call from my younger woman friend in North Georgia seemed to clear some of the fog, after she told me two dreams she had last night, which were about her. As for me, here are two letters to the editor in the Key West Citizen today:
Study good for
Key West economy
People against the widening of the channel are inclined to say that those in favor of the study are “a few greedy people” who want to do this study without regard for the environmental consequences.
This is false.
The working people of Key West are all dependent on the success of the overall Keys economy. If the study found that fishing or diving or the natural habitat were to be harmed in any way that could not be mitigated, then they would most certainly oppose the widening of the ships channel.
The projected cost of the proposed project is $35 million. However, 66 percent, or $24 million, of those funds will be spent to move hard bottom corals, cultivate new coral growth, and fully mitigate any harm to the extent that the environment will benefit by a multiple of any incidental damage. In fact, this money spent on restoration and regeneration will potentially turn the tide on restoration of the reef, which is about three miles away from the planned widening.
Our Key West economy is supported by many revenue streams. The money generated from the cruise ship stream is important, circulates to thousands of families, and affects all of us taxpayers in a positive way. Proponents of the study also support other revenue streams that make up our economic success. We are not attacking other business efforts. We are against the proposed extension of “no-take” zones that will unreasonably impact the recreational and commercial fishermen. I am against what is happening in the Upper Keys that will inhibit the light tackle sports fishing and I am against the increasing restriction in the backcountry of the Lower Keys.
All of us should be aware that the economy that we have rebuilt since 1970 was hard-won, and whatever negatively affects any component of the economy filters down to all of us. Perhaps some folks can afford not to care.
This Key West economy?
Or this Key West economy?
in study results
People who live alongside man-made canals in houses built on dredge spoil shouldn’t try and stop a study to determine if more dredging can safely be done.
Open water swimming, bicycle riding and stand-up paddleboarding on crystal-clear water brings me and my credit card to Key West frequently. Although my family recreational activities are pretty green, the gasoline I burn travelling by car and the waste I generate from my hotel have to go somewhere.
Key West is doing the right thing by embracing Advanced Wastewater Treatment (AWT).
If the same was required for all of Key West’s neighboring communities, then even better.
All ships, even military ships, should have AWT systems; federal laws should be tightened on this issue. Some shipping companies are embracing AWT above and beyond the law. Those companies should be rewarded for their efforts, and the others who just meet the letter of the law should be prodded to do the right thing.
If a scientific study can determine that the dredging can be safely done to the benefit of the environment and economy, then why not consider it? Those of us who recreate on the water without combustion engines have a huge appreciation for water cleanliness: Our health depends upon it. You would be surprised how much gas seems to slick on the surface from just one boat.
If the dredging project can allow more people to see the beauty of Key West and reduce impacts on the environment at the same time, then my input as a visitor would be to allow it. Most people I know want to be good stewards to the natural beauty of Key West and getting more facts from a study to ensure clean water would be welcomed. We all tend to overlook pollution emanating from our own backyards as we wag our finger at our neighbors. I am interested to see what the study yields.
West Palm Beach
This letter writer makes good points, but I wonder how this pic fits into his studying?
Also down Key West way, yesterday’s Citizen reported:
Navy to sell Peary Court today
Will pay all back taxes before handing over deed to White Street Partners
BY GWEN FILOSA Citizen Staff
White Street Partners, a group that includes Everett Atwell and Nelson Stabile, confirmed Thursday a deal had been struck with the Navy, which owns the land, and Southeast Housing, the Balfour Beatty subsidiary that owns the houses located between Palm Avenue and White Street.
Developers would not disclose the final sale price Thursday. Navy spokeswomen did not immediately return calls.
The concession by the Navy and Southeast to pay off property taxes clears the way for the largest residential deal in Key West proper since Truman Annex was built in the 1990s.
“They will pay all the taxes tomorrow, all the back taxes,” Atwell said Thursday in a sit-down interview with Citizen reporters. “We’re very excited about this opportunity. We’ve been working on this for 2½ years to get to this point.”
In the one to 1½ year-period before White Street Partners plan to break ground, they will manage the rental properties that today are essentially filled, Atwell said.
“The only changes you’ll see are improvements,” said Atwell, a Conch whose family goes back five generations on the island. “Our immediate focus right now is to run the property as best we can and provide great customer service.”
The group met with the property manager and has recently signed one-year leases with renters, who face a waiting list for a home there.
Unlike the last Navy property to turn residential, White Street Partners isn’t building a gated community at Peary Court, promising architecture and designs that almost seamlessly connect with the rest of Old Town.
Early designs show that all but 48 of the 208 units will be single-family homes ranging from 800 to 2,000 square feet, with an average of 1,400.
“You’re going to have a good mix, from local families to second-home families,” said Atwell. “Some of this will be affordable to first responder types, nurses.”
Developers on Thursday said they hadn’t decided whether the final product will remain named Peary Court.
“We’re not trying to imitate anything,” Atwell said Thursday, seated alongside his fellow developers James Landers of Key West and Victor Ballestas of Miami. “We’re trying to create something that blends into the historical fabric.”
Ballestas said, “It’s still going to be pretty special. At the end of the day it’s still going to feel like a park setting.”
Run by a homeowners association, the new development will offer houses for $400,000 to nearly $1 million, Atwell said.
As for “affordable housing,” Atwell said he prefers to call such stock “workforce housing,” and the new Peary Court will definitely include such a component, the partners confirmed Thursday.
Thirty apartments will also be in the new Peary Court, where zoning prohibits transient rentals.
Key West needs no more transient rentals – is that what Peary Court really is about, more transient rentals?
“We would like to provide the opportunity to somebody to own a house at a decent price,” said Atwell. “That’s our goal.”
The price of these affordable units will be? They will be dedicated to being affordable in perpetuity? Or, will they go market rate after a few years?
Paulo Tavares de Melo, a co-director of Integra Solutions in Miami along with Stabile, is the fifth developer on board with White Street Partners.
White Street Partners, which formed in January 2012, teamed up with Wexford Capital of Greenwich, Conn., and 13th Floor Investors of Miami to put together the financing for the project.
Southeast Housing LLC, which partners with Naval Air Station Key West on housing projects, sued the Monroe County Property Appraiser’s Office last year to fight $11.3 million in liens and back taxes placed on all five properties it manages on the island. Those sites are Peary Court, Trumbo Point, Sigsbee, Truman Annex and units at the Veterans Administration hospital building on South Roosevelt Boulevard.
Southeast, a subsidiary of the U.K.-based giant Balfour Beatty, had been operating tax-free for several years until Property Appraiser Scott Russell decided its military housing exemption was over because civilians were now living at the sites.
Key West residents got a chance in June to view the first draft of the architect’s plans for the 208-unit development that will replace some 150 rental homes that today have a waiting list for occupancy.
I believe those current 150 rental homes, to be replaced, are for Key West residents, not for tourists, snowbirds, etc.
Those 150 households will continue to have a place to rent, said Ballestas.
Where, at what rent?
As of today, the owners will be a newly formed company called Peary Court Holdings.
The historic value of Peary Court to Key West isn’t lost on Atwell, who remembers playing ball there when the 24 acres was a rough yet open field the Navy allowed the city to use for softball fields and a makeshift local park. “My wife and I would go to 5 Brothers, get a sandwich and a drink and have lunch there,” Atwell said of the Peary Court of the early 1980s.
Fun local trivia fact: One softball team bore the name of Che Che’s, a Truman Avenue bar in the 1980s now home to Dons’ Place.
The Navy bought the Peary Court property in 1827, when the city of Key West was barely a year old.
“To establish barracks at the behest of the city of Key West to protect the city from pirates,” Atwell noted Thursday. “We care a lot about the history.”
Yep, and not the pirates are a British company, an American company, and until it agreed to pay the taxes, the US Navy, and even then, I wonder why the Navy didn’t give or sell Peary Court cheap to Key West, like the Navy did with other surplus Navy housing and land?
Architect Bernard Zyscovich has promised an enclave of homes and landscaping that will blend into Old Town.
But the original drafts showed 11 houses going up on Angela Street, along with 25 new parking spaces, which developers believed the neighbors would welcome.
They were wrong, as several homeowners on Angela and other streets in the Meadows neighborhood protested any changes, including to a fence that stands between Peary Court and them.
The fence will stay and plans for the new homes and parking spots are scotched, White Street Partners said Thursday.
Seems the pirates lost that skirmish.
Atwell said the group will deliver its plans to the city via the Development Review Committee, comprising mostly city staff, within the next couple of months.
From there, the developers must obtain approvals from the Historic Architectural Review Commission, the Planning Board and pass a final review from the City Commission.
“We love Key West, we care about the city and everything here,” said Atwell. “This is a huge economic benefit to the city: jobs, taxes, improving the community. We hope to be really good stewards with this community.”
About that, sometimes whistleblower GS11 wrote to me:
What to do with the $13,5 million? (Of Navy Back Taxes)
Key West: Homeless shelter & Truman Waterfront Development $4,500,000
Monroe School District: Student Supplies, Books, and Educational materials $4,500,000
Monroe County: Better Food and Cable at the Jail, More IPods and Phone’s for Employees and Staff $4,500,000
Please Contact me,
Been busy moving for past two days. My cell is 305-407-4285. No longer have other phone number. No longer have the privacy to carry on via telephone. At this time, I have no sense of how to spend the Navy tax “bonanza”. I’m wondering what caused the Navy to do it? I’m wondering what that says about the future and the developer paying taxes?
Navy needed the money from the sale to pay bonds and settle before the end of Fical Year 2013. (Sept 30) Also with budget cut-backs coming up in year 2014. Developer will pay taxes, but will commission allow new development. I think will say yes to development due to higher Tax on pricey Condos than low tax poor people housing.
Need a letter from you on info I provided in Oct 2009-2012
Also reported in the Citizen today:
Navy report: More missiles, bombs could be on the way
BY ADAM LINHARDT Citizen Staff
The Navy released a report Friday that indicates future military training in the Florida Keys could include underwater explosives and other operations that result in sea debris.
The 2,000-page draft of the Atlantic Fleet Training and Testing Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) involves all Navy operations on the Atlantic Seaboard and the Gulf of Mexico, from Maine to Texas.
Any uptick in naval operations will probably go unnoticed by Florida Keys residents, said U.S. Fleet Forces EIS project manager Jene Nissen.
“The level of activity that occurs down there will be about the same,” Nissen said. “There could be additional testing, but much of it will be far off at sea.”
Some of those additional operations and testing may include:
• An increase in “chaff countermeasure” exercises. Chaff canisters contain a “couple million” glass fibers — about the same thickness of human hair — covered in aluminum, designed to confuse enemy radars. About 30,000 such canisters may be released near the Keys each year. According to the EIS summary: “Chaff is a very light material that can remain suspended in air anywhere between 10 minutes to 10 hours” and can travel up to 200 miles from the point of release. After falling from the air, the fibers float on the sea surface and eventually sink.
• The beginning of “sonobouy” tests, in which 1,512 of the canisters would be dropped from the air. Sonobouy canisters explode in the water, creating a loud acoustic signal used to determine the position of a target. They are used in anti-submarine warfare. Sonobouys leave parachutes, canister fragments and other debris in the water.
• The beginning of “mine neutralization” exercises north of Fleming Key, in which C-4 explosives with the equivalent of up to 60 pounds of TNT are detonated underwater.
“The Atlantic Fleet Training and Testing EIS examines Navy training out at sea from Maine to Texas,” said Naval Air Station Key West spokeswoman Trice Denny, adding that another, smaller 800-page environmental report recently released deals “exclusively with air operations at Boca Chica Field.”
Monroe County hired Fort Lauderdale-based consulting firm Keith and Schnars to analyze both Navy reports.
The smaller, 800-page Naval Air Station Key West EIS covers Boca Chica Field to about 10 miles around the air base, said U.S. Fleet Forces spokesman Ted Brown.
“We haven’t really had a chance to review it (the larger Atlantic Fleet Training and Testing EIS) fully as we’ve been focusing on the local (Naval Air Station Key West EIS) more,” said Keith and Schnars Vice President Michael Davis.
Davis declined to comment further until he could review the full report.
Keith and Schnars engineers noted in their executive summary to county leaders last summer that the Navy may conduct some of these additional operations within the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. The Navy claims precedence, as the military was here before the sanctuary was created.
God created the US Navy before God created the earth and the seas?
Which causes me to also wonder if God created cruise ships right after God created the US Navy?