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Last night, a Big Pine Key “blast” from the past sailed into my email account while I was in Old City Hall Key West listening to an all-white appointed Truman Waterfront Advisory Board (TWAB), using shell game B.S., tell a mixed-race Bahama Village Redevelopment Advisory Committee (BERAC) how Bahama Village really wasn’t being screwed out of half, or more than half, of the 6.6 acres of Navy land Bahama Village was intended by the Navy to get, when the Navy conveyed Truman Waterfront to Key West back around 2002 or 2003. More on that pleasantry further along. Meanwhile, the pleasantry from Big Pine Key:
I have property on BPK and the FKAA is requesting I sign an agreement to grant them an easement for installation and maintenance of a grinder pump. I’m concerned after reading some of your information. Is this going forward no matter what? Do I have to allow a grinder pump on my property? My property is by Sea Camp any chance we can get the gravity system?
Hi, Pam -
If you don’t sign the Florida Keys Aqueduct Authority agreement, their employees and the contractor installing the grinder pumps for FKAA have no legal right to come onto your property to install the grinder pump. I have heard they threaten homeowners who refuse to sign the agreement with filing complaints with the county health department and/or code enforcement, followed by them tagging your home unsafe for human habitation and you must move out. I have not heard of it actually going that far, though. I wrote an email to Banks Prevatt maybe 10 days ago, to which Lee Rohe, Attorney at Law, who represents Dump the Pumps, Inc., wrote back, “Good advice”, recommending that Big Pine property owners, since little new sewer work has been done there, are in a good position to ask for court injunctive relief, if they all get together and hire a lawyer, but I felt their best chance was simply to not sign FKAA’s agreement, and then have the lawyer defend them, if need be, from whatever the county government tried to do to get them to sign FKAA’s agreement. I have heard some people have refused to sign the agreement, and others have signed it fearing retaliation from the county, not wanting the hassle, not wanting to pay a lawyer. If I lived on Big Pine, in an area where a gravity sewer is feasible (not remote location, numbers of other homes nearby), I imagine the angels running me would tell me to tell FKAA to stick their agreement where the sun doesn’t shine. Beneath my signature below is something I received from Banks after I went offline before turning in last night, which makes my blood boil over how FKAA, the County Commission and specifically George Neugent have gone about this.
Hope this helps some, but what seems to be really needed is for something to happen, which puts the living, abject fear of God into FKAA, the County Commissioners and specifically George Neugent. Toss in Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), as well.
From Banks Prevatt:
Lady x sent this out tonight. I will follow this with a typical George Neugent response which has nothing to do with the fact this lady lives and votes in his district.
Would it be possible to block my name, e-mail & house address? If so then I don’t mind at all.
In a message dated 3/17/2014 6:10:50 P.M. Eastern Daylight Time, Bgprevatt@aol.com writes:
Do you mind if I forward this to our group?
In a message dated 3/17/2014 6:00:09 P.M. Eastern Daylight Time, @aol.com writes:
I’m writing this e-mail to appeal to your integrity and fairness. I live on Big Pine Key (xxxxxx) and it seems that I and my family on the next block are slated for “grinder pumps”. I have been a resident in the Florida Keys since 1971. My family has been and still is involved with Monroe County Sheriff’s Department. I am a widow living on my Social Security and husband’s retirement. My husband retired after 25 years, all of my sons have been deputies here. Also working for the Sheriff is my daughter who in June will have 29 years and her husband is at the airport and getting ready to retire in a year and a half and their son is a fireman in Key West with a wife, 4 year old son and a new baby. We are community minded every day citizens.
I’m so disappointed with FKAA and our County Commissioners especially the commissioner for our district for backing and deciding with no rhyme or reason who will get gravity and who will get grinders. Let alone the added expenses. The cost of permits, the extra electrical involved with grinders, the dangers of gas connected with them, the explosions that they are all talking about, the maintenance of them and the loss of our facilities.
There have been studies done comparing them with other methods including Gravity with Grinders being the worst system and Gravity coming out on top as one of the best. So why are you even considering them?
We have no WRITTEN guarantees from FKAA that you will maintain them forever. Whose to say that a month after installation you drop the ball and give us the responsibility of maintenance or began to charge us a fee to cover the maintenance?
Why is it that one block or several blocks have the grinders and then the next several blocks have the gravity and then back for a few more blocks you see the grinders?
These are my questions and fears but the biggest ones are money and not being able to use our facilities such as bathrooms, showers, dishwashers, washing machines, etc., etc. when we lose power. Having lived down here for so many years I have experienced loss of electric not only for hurricanes, but from overloads on the grids when the Keys have tourist such as Spring Break or Christmas, from a boat mast hitting the power lines and even from rain storms and windy conditions. So you say you have 1 or 2 trucks to go around and each has the capacity to pump 100 houses a day, what do the other homes do in the meantime? Are you going to go around and set up portable potties? You claim MAYBE all the part time residents won’t be here? You’ve got to be kidding!!
We’re talking about hard working families, young families that are trying to survive here in the Keys and you are putting a heavy burden on us all. If you were not able to come up with the original cost of $4500. it was put on your tax bill thus increasing your mortgage payment. The thought of coming up with another $3000. or $4000. is overwhelming.
I’m pleading for you to reconsider the grinders and give all of us the gravity pumps. We shouldn’t be punished because the monies have been used elsewhere.
CC: Governor Scott
Meanwhile, moving over to delightful Peary Court in Key West,
I sent this email yesterday to the Resistance, after receiving the part in quotes from one of them:
“These guidelines…are intended to preserve and protect the architectural environment and unique character of the historic neighborhoods of the Key West Historic District”. Further stated in their Guidelines is the acknowledgement that new construction may “drastically alter the nature of buildings and the neighborhood streetscape.” On page 23 it notes that “new construction….should be designed and constructed to be clearly differentiated from the historic building…” and on page 37, “the distinction between historic and temporary should be evident.” This is a mandate for HARC to ensure that the new Old Town Peary Court should remain as separate and invisible from the historic Meadows and White St. as possible.”
Although I personally feel the new development should be walled off from the rest of Key West, I am having trouble seeing a mandate in the above to do that. Perhaps I need more information on that.
After leaving yesterday’s Moose Club meeting, I dropped by Naja’s home and we talked a good while. Her position matches Don Craig’s and HARC’s re merging the new Peary Court development with its neighborhoods. It’s all One Human Family, isn’t it?, Naja asked. I said not if you live on Angela Street and are being invaded by foreigners, first Balfour Beatty, then mainland Americans, now South Americans. She said not so for her; if she lived on Angela Street, she would want the fence down and be able to meet and get to know her new neighbors.
Naja made a point I think might be correct, which is that Hendrick, the architect and the developer really do want the Angela fence to remain, because they really do want as close to a gated community as they can achieve, and letting you folks take the lead for keeping the Angela fence up actually pleases them. It is Hendrick’s modus operandi to get people to look at what he wants them to see, and not at what he does not want them to see.
I asked Naja how she would feel with Angela Street remaining the same, and the fence remaining up, and a through street created from the Palm Avenue entrance into Peary Court connected with Southard Street? She said that would not be her first choice, but she could live with it. I said that might really freak out Hendrick, the architect and the developer.
Let the residents in the new Peary Court live on both sides of a city through street, just like Naja, for example, does on Newton Street. Why should the new development not have a through street from Palm Avenue to Southard Street, when Newton Street runs from White Street to Eisenhower Avenue, when several other through streets in the Meadows do the same thing?
Who knows what the developer might do, if he has a major street running through the development, like, hmmm, Shirley has running in front of her home on Eaton Street? Shouldn’t the developer’s buyers have to suffer the same traffic the homeowners on Eaton, Southard, Fleming, Caroline etc. Streets suffer every day and night?
Naja said the architect lied to the HARC commissioners about Palm Avenue only serving the credit union, when it was there, (I agreed with her) and she was at the Moose Club meeting when Hendrick said city staff wanted to close Palm Avenue into Peary Court, and then we saw how that went down with Don Craig at the HARC meeting.
I told Naja that I do not buy that it was the intent way back when to some day extend city streets into the Navy land. Way back when was big, ugly Navy buildings. Way back when, the thought never occurred to any city commissioner, nor any city mayor, nor any city attorney, nor any city manager, nor any city planner, nor any city architectural review board that the Navy would not be there. Hendrick’s good architect friend reverse engineered the fantasy that it was always intended that those city streets would be extended across White Street into the Navy land.
The HARC commissioners and Don Craig bought into that fantasy hook, line and sinker. White Street always was the end point for those streets in everyone’s mind. Only now is history being rewritten; in George Orwell’s 1984, they called that doublespeak. This looks insidious to me; it is driven by greed, and that needs to kept being said, and said, and said. This development is not being brought by the city, but is being imposed on the city by invaders in the city. The invaders should be given a taste of their own medicine.
I told Naja, while the HARC regulations and enabling ordinances, and other city ordinances, are important and need to be dealt with, I’m also going for the heart issues; I’m going after the emotional component.
Hendrick’s credibility was in doubt before he visibly got involved in Peary Court. I am hearing said that Hendrick’s buddy Pritam Singh is going to end up controlling the land where Schooner Warf is, and then not renew the lease and make Schooner Warf move somewhere else. There is a bad taste in the city, and in city hall, for Singh and Hendrick, going all the way back to Truman Annex. In the main, they are not popular in the city.
Maybe if I were the Peary Court developer, I would not be happy with my architect and Hendrick right now. Maybe I would be reeling from what happened at the HARC meeting. Maybe I would be trying to seek a real and open alliance with the Angela Street folks, and with the Meadows.
You Angela Street folks’ homes have been there a long time, and the developer is a foreign invader, a profiteer, a money grubber. That just don’t sit okay with me, compounded by the earlier attempt to avoid paying land taxes, and the even earlier by-pass of Key West altogether by the Navy in favor of Balfour Beatty getting Peary Court. Further back time is the really contentious event of the Navy turning what had become a public park between Angela Street and Palm Avenue into the present Peary Court housing development. Naja said yesterday that those residences were going to be concrete block until a commotion arose in the city and the current not all that bad-looking housing resulted.
There is resentment in the city toward what has happened at Peary Court, dating back to when the ball field was replaced with the Navy housing now at Peary Court. The longstanding city-wide resentment surrounding Peary Court cannot be ignored; it may be your best weapon. From a marketing perspective, you folks on Angela Street are David going up against Goliath: the city, the developer, you pick, or lump them together. The new Peary Court development in all probability is inevitable, however how it ends up being designed may well not be inevitable.
You Angela Street folks could end up being heroes for pushing the city to skewer (sort of rhymes with screw) the developer, Hendrick and his good architect friend, by getting the City to actually make the new Peary Court a regular neighborhood – except you folks don’t get raped by the new Peary Court interfering with your longstanding peace and quiet on Angela Street, which really is not a through street like Newton is, like other streets in the Meadows are. Already, several crossing streets dead-end at Angela. It is not like any of the other streets, is it? In some places, one of a kind things are revered.
I hope you Angela Street folks will stop talking about making concessions and start hanging tough. Let your argument get into the local media. Let people around Key West learn of it.
Each of the seven HARC commissioners is appointed by an elected city official. The mayor appoints the HARC Chair. Each city commissioner appoints a HARC member. This is on HARC’s website.
Write letters to the editor to the Citizen, the Keynoter, Key West the Newspaper and KONK Life. Start showing up at city commission meetings and speaking during closing citizen comments, when you can speak to any topic for three minutes, with folks watching at home on Channel 77 TV. You can get your side of it out there very easily. Be there tonight to speak during closing citizen comments. You can put a lot of heat on your city commissioner, Jimmy Weekley, the other city commissioners and Mayor Cates in the court of public opinion.
You Angela Street folks’ homes are being invaded. Stand your ground, you do not have to retreat in your home. You can shoot to kill. You should shoot to kill. There is too much at stake for you folks living on Angela Street to do any less. This is not about saving Old Town. It is about saving your homes and way of life. You have far more to lose, thus far more standing, morally and legally, than Naja, Shirley, or anyone else in Key West, to move this fight to where it belongs, which is not your street.
Drop the a from Angela and what do you get?
The author of the HARC guidelines part I had quoted replied:
Sloan, I appreciate your interest in the Peary Court debacle, but I’m curious why a rational reader of the HARC Guidelines wouldn’t solidly come to the same or a similar conclusion as ours. I was an architect and a builder in a previous life, and have sat on the comparable board elsewhere. The Key West HARC mission statement, lacking as it is, seems pretty clear to me.
I wrote back:
I am not an architect or a builder, past or present, and am glad to learn there is one among you. Perhaps because I am not, I do not read/conclude in what you quoted from the HARC guidelines and commented a mandate to keep Peary Court separate and invisible from the Meadows and White Street. Perhaps separate and invisible are what differentiate and distinct mean to architects and builders? I also wrote that I personally would like to see the whole new Peary Court development walled off. I should have added, and the gates locked from the outside Sloan
On Bahama Village getting screwed at Truman Waterfront, in today’s Key West Citizen – www.keysnews.com, I supplied pic:
Tuesday, March 18, 2014
Bahama Village still gets 6.6 acres
Waterfront park meeting questions benefits for Village residents
BY GWEN FILOSA Citizen Staff
The members of two appointed boards on Monday agreed that the city’s plans to redevelop the Truman Waterfront include 6.6 acres reserved for the financial and social benefit of Bahama Village residents.
“Bahama Village isn’t losing anything,” said Jim Gilleran, a member of the Truman Waterfront Advisory Board (TWAB), which met Monday with members of the Bahama Village Redevelopment Advisory Committee (BVRAC). “Both boards agree: The economic benefit of the 6.6 acres is preserved.”
Gilleran said the “benefits” are many and include job training, funds from property taxes, athletic fields and a community center for children.
But the subject prompted some frank discussion at Old City Hall about whether Bahama Village once again was being left out of the island’s planned progress.
Key West’s modern history is lined with projects claiming to help the island’s beleaguered, historically black neighborhood in Old Town, BVRAC Chairman Aaron Castillo said during Monday’s joint session with the waterfront park’s advisory panel.
“We have a chance now to bring back something that’s been dormant,” Castillo said. “I don’t want to say it was taken away from us, but it was supposed to be given back to us and supposed to help us, not hurt us.”
Recently, City Commissioner Clayton Lopez, whose district includes Bahama Village, led a charge questioning whether city staff’s adopted master plan for the park had set aside the 6.6 acres voters had reserved for Bahama Village.
What remains a matter of debate for some locals is whether the voters agreed to reserve the 6.6 acres only for the Bahama Conch Community Land Trust (BCCLT), a housing nonprofit that fell apart after an embezzlement scandal that sent Norma Jean Sawyer to prison in 2012 for misspending grant money meant for affordable housing.
In 2008, voters approved the granting of a 99-year lease with the BCCLT for control of one, 6.6-acre section of the waterfront. By 2011, city commissioners canceled the lease agreement with the defunct nonprofit.
That did not cancel the original intent of voters that the Truman Waterfront redevelopment plan include 6.6 acres for uses that benefit the neighborhood, Lopez has said.
All seven members of each board attended Monday’s meeting at Old City Hall, crowding the dais for more than an hour and a half to go over the blueprints for the park. Then the park advisory board met separately.
At press time, the board was discussing whether to approve city staff’s $1 million task order for architectural and landscaping designs. City Planning Director Don Craig said the approval would allow engineers to start designing the construction of 80 percent of the park.
During the joint panel meeting, however, one former city commissioner who runs a nonprofit veterans museum said the meeting proved that the 6.6 acres is still on the table for Bahama Village .
“Some people want Bahama Village to stay where it is,” said Bill Verge. “We couldn’t get all these other things without using Bahama Village. It doesn’t look a lot different now than it did 20 years ago.”
City planners and others have relied on dropping the Bahama Village name in order to obtain funding, Verge said.
“It’s the reason for a lot of things in this town and it never happens,” Verge said. “Key West Bight would have never happened. Caroline Street. How about Sunset Pier? Anybody know how Sunset Pier came about? A community block grant. It was going to create employment for Bahama Village.”
Robert Kelly said the neighborhood was a key factor that led to the Navy deeding the property over to the city in 2002.
“Bahama Village was used to acquire the 33 acres,” said Kelly. “It’s a betrayal of trust to have taken this away.”
Verge said about the same: it was to help Bahama Village that the Navy deeded the 33 acres to Key West.
Race is obviously an issue working against the neighborhood, Naja Girard said.
“Let’s face it, we’ve got a segregated town,” she said “My kids are in classes with all white children.”
Naja’s husband Arnaud said it was always intended by the Navy, and by the voters in the referendum, for Bahama Village to get 6.2 acres, or more, of the Navy land, and that is what Bahama Village should get.
Attorney Robert Cintron, chairman of TWAB, took issue with the accusation that race and class discrimination were at work among the volunteer boards.
“Some aspects of this park do benefit Bahama Village, maybe not economically but socially,” said Cintron. “Nobody here is discriminating against anyone. We’ve done everything we can to respect the Village.”
Kelly, Verge (top photos) and the Girards (bottom photos) are friends of mine. I had no idea what they were going to say, but it sure matched my own sentiments. After Robert Cintron, also my friend,
expressed consternation that racial discrimination had been inferred by some of the citizen speakers, I could have had the presence of mind to say something lawyerly like, “Res ipsa loquitur (the thing speaks for itself), there ain’t no black people on the Truman Waterfront Advisory Board.”
Not reported by Filosa were my comments, which went something like:
“It came to me a little while ago to tell of something that happened after I moved from Colorado in 1995 back to Birmingham, Alabama, where I had practiced law. I was getting to know a young black judge at the YMCA and we had a number of conversations in the steam room. Finally, he said one day that he had figured out what my problem was, and I said what is it?, and he said I am racially prejudiced against white people, and I said that probably is true. Not generally prejudiced, but still prejudiced.”
I looked at the all-white TWAB, asked, “What have you done? Bahama Village is the reason the Navy deeded Truman Waterfront to the city. Cut through the B.S. All this talk about Truman Waterfront generating revenue for Bahama Village is smoke and mirrors. Just write Bahama Village a check for $10,000,000, for the half of the land taken from them.” Aaron Castillo laughed, said, ‘I’ll take it!’ I said, “Or give them the land that is theirs so they can try to make something out of it, because there is no way Truman Waterfront is going to generate positive revenues for the city.”
Then, I looked over at Ron Demes, the Navy’s civilian liaison with the city, and said something like, “Back in 2002 and 2003, the Navy let people use the outer mole for swimming, fishing, picnicking, watching sunsets, when no Navy warship was in port, which was seldom.
After the Navy conveyed the 33 acres to the city, we were not allowed to go out there any more. What was that about?” Ron started what appeared to be a long answer about increasing national defense concerns, and I said, “I see where you are going and don’t want that to use up what is left of my 3 minutes to speak. So civilians cannot go out there, but Ed Swift’s conch trains get to go out there and pick up hordes of immigrants from cruise ships, who come from wherever, carrying whatever.” Ron said the city security is very good. I said, “Any one of them could be wearing a bomb wrapped around their bellies.” I intended to be somewhat facetious, since my point was, the Navy and the city trying to make money off of cruise ship passengers trumps national defense concerns, but the people there last night do not pay the Navy and the city to use the outer mole, so we cannot not use it.
During the break, Ron thanked me for busting his balls, and I said it wasn’t him, he doesn’t make those calls, he’s just the Navy’s messenger. I understand national defense, but I do not care for it being selectively enforced in that way. One of the white BVRAC board members had said from the dais, the little beach at Truman Waterfront is the nicest beach on the island, which is true. And I had said during my citizen comments, the beach was built for Harry Truman, the US President, and we ought to be able to use it today.
After the two boards had adjourned and just TWAB reconvened, I had more to say as different agenda items came up.
On the contract with the super boat race sponsor, which requires using Truman Waterfront as a parking, staging and launch area, I asked if that will continue after Truman Waterfront Park was constructed? Robert Cintron said, yes, the sponsor will be responsible for repairing all damage to the grass, plants, roads, etc. I said that’s inconsistent with this beautiful design, which will cost $18-23 million to build. I told Cintron that he and I both are lawyers, and we know that’s not a good idea.
On connectivity to Admiral Cut, I asked Ron Demes if the Navy would object to a 5-star hotel on the first plot of the park in the far right-hand corner of the map? Ron said there might be issues with chemicals in the dirt, oil, which would not allow for residential use. He would have to check that out and get back to me. I did not say I was pretty sure developers have ways of putting down impermeable shields over chemically-polluted land, I heard Ed Swift did that at the Steam Plant condominiums. I did say something like, “The Walshes, who own Admiral Cut and the Westin, which is a 5-star hotel, might be interested in putting another hotel on that piece of Truman Waterfront, and that would get them to agree to open Admiral Cut up to foot and bicycle traffic, which was said earlier is crucial to the park working out, as that is where a lot of the foot and bicycle traffic will come from: over Admiral Cut. The city could offer the Walshes, who have 5-star hotels up the eastern seaboard, google them, see for yourselves, a $1 a year 99-year lease for that new hotel, and the city gets back 1 percent of the gross revenues from it.:
On identifying funding opportunities for development and maintenance of the park, I said something like, “There is no way this park will generate revenues to pay for itself being built, nor for it being maintained. That is known and TWAB and expecially Robert Cintron need to make that known to the public. During the break, between the two board meetings, I spoke with both Robert and citizen Peary Johnson, and they both agreed the revenue is not going to happen, and Peary said the only way to pay for the park is to raise taxes. It’s going to be a pretty park, but the public needs to be told, if they want it, they will have to pay for it.”
When I spoke on on the telephone with a friend last night, she asked how it had gone at the Truman Waterfront meetings? I said I had caused a lot of trouble, I had never been to their meetings before, I imagine they were glad for that and hoped I would not be back. If I were city mayor right now, I would have been at those two meetings last night, and I would have said the same things, and I would have gotten lots more time to say those things, just as City Commissioners Clayton Lopez and Tony Yaniz got as much time as they wanted to say what they wanted to say. Off to the side, Yaniz agreed with me: there is no way Truman Waterfront will pay for itself; it will cost the city a lot of money to build and maintain than any fantasized revenues. He said much the same thing to the two boards, and that there is stuff in the design he does not like, especially the 250 seat amphitheater, which will cost a few million.
Dang, I forgot to tell them that the two pros from Tennessee Williams Theater had told the City Commission that there was no way a 250 seat amphitheater can make money; the theater will have to seat at least 1,700, and even then breaking even will be a good outcome, assuming grants and donations cover the revenue shortfalls.
After the second TWAB meeting,
I wandered over to Jack Flats sports bar on Duval Street to have dinner and watch whatever sports events were on TV. One wide screen had professional wrestling.
They show that, but will not show MMA events, which I like watching but are too violent for Jack Flats, can’t show blood streaming, I was told by the bartenders. The live wrestling, with blood streaming, was a howl, pure mayhem. Two bouts took my mind clean off the two TWAB board meetings, I was temporarily cured.
Then, I pedaled my bicycle home, talked with my friend about the TAWB meetings, turned in, and read a bit more in the howler, A Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy,
which begins with Earth being vaporized by aliens because it stands in the way of a new intergalactic thoroughfare – as the tale progresses, I get reacquainted with some of my long lost relatives.
Then, as sleep was overtaking me, I turned out the light, dozed off, and was pounced on in a dream about something weird from another planet of sorts, not involving Key West, about which I might not write, but then, maybe some day I will.
At Harpoon Harry’s yesterday morning,
server amiga Debbie asked if it was proper to call me “Mayor”? I said, okay, and asked what she should be called? She said, “Mayoress?” I laughed, said, how about “First Lady”. She scrunched her nose. I said, okay, how about “Lady Debbie?” She smiled. Or better, “The Lady Debbie.” She smiled more. I said she is one of my campaign managers, “at large.” I ain’t responsible for anything she says or does, “plausible deniability.” She smiled. Mary Poppins, she ain’t. More like,
Ditto for the rest of the Harpoon Harry’s servers, campaign managers “at large” – mess with them, you get messed with back.
The way city officials can find out what’s really going on in their city, as if they really want to know, is attend various community and city government meetings, besides the ones they have to attend because of their city positions, and hang out in places like Harpoon Harry’s, where city people say what’s on their minds and in their hearts.
breakfast at Harpoon Harry’s, I see Bill Verge and Naja and Arnaud Girard in there pretty often, and other weirdos who don’t mince words
Political advertisement paid for and approved by Sloan Bashinsky, for Mayor of Key West