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KONK REACTOR column
[Published in the KONK Life newspaper on September 13, 2012.]
More Reactionary Voices
Once again I return to answering local anonymous “reactionaries” who have commented in our Island Voice column. (You can submit your own comments there by writing to “firstname.lastname@example.org” or by calling 305-453-6804.)
“Can Commissioner Lopez ever see beyond his district? The thought of opposing the assisted living center at the Truman Waterfront because his district will not receive any taxes from its placement there is not only vulgar but just plain stupid.”
This issue is far too complex for such histrionics. One must understand that a key provision of the Navy’s conveyance of the waterfront property to the City is that there must be a component that would provide direct economic benefit to the Bahama Village community. Prior to the collapse of the Bahama Conch Community Land Trust (BCCLT) that provision was to be met by a grand plan to set up a market-place, small businesses, affordable housing and a community square that would be an extension of the Village. The BCCLT’s demise left a hole in the plan that had to be filled.
Commissioner Lopez, rather than spending years more attempting to pull together something similar, saw a way to kill two birds with one stone. He knew that placing the assisted living facility directly at the (Southard) entrance to the waterfront was anathema to many, so he proposed moving it into the Bahama Village-adjacent component of the property. This would also provide a significant boost to Tax Increment Financing (TIF) funds dedicated to Bahama Village. It appeared to be a win-win, and was approved by the Commission.
That made sense at the time, because the active bid was from a “for-profit” venture. However, that fell through, and now the assisted living facility is being pursued by a non-profit — the “Affordable Housing Institute.” Since they are tax exempt, the expected benefit to Bahama Village disappears, and along with it the fulfillment of the Navy’s conveyance requirement. Commissioner Lopez’s qualms are valid, and should be shared by the entire commission. There MUST be an economic benefit to Bahama Village.
“Roosevelt smellavelt kill me nowavwelt, really, two-and-a-half more years of this? I’m moving back to Chicago.”
There are many complaints circulating about the North Roosevelt project. Some are bogus, such as claims that nobody informed the public of what to expect. Au contraire: for the previous two years or so there were many many well-publicized public meetings, newspaper stories and radio interviews. And officials met personally with every single business in the planned construction zone. There were no surprises for anyone who pays attention to what’s going on in this town.
Many complainers are just ill-informed. Comparisons are made to projects like the Overseas Railroad, which had an army of workers and was paid for out of the deepest pockets of the era. On the other extreme, the project is contrasted with simple re-pave jobs only requiring a few pieces of equipment, pretty much just scraping the existing road and re-depositing it. THIS project completely rebuilds a couple of miles of tall sea-wall, lays new fresh water, storm water and waste water lines, rebuilds the promenade from scratch, transplants out and in hundreds of trees, adds a completely new sidewalk, redoes drives and intersections for miles, provides new lighting and new traffic controls, and widens the entire thoroughfare. No comparison.
A legitimate concern: The state routinely does 24 hour construction where deemed important enough, but they apparently find the disruption of our businesses, tourists and our lives too trivial to expend such effort. Considering how this could reduce the project to less than two years, this SHOULD be rethought.
Chicagoans and other mainlanders who regularly experience major traffic disruptions are undoubtedly laughing at our complaints over 10 extra minutes on our cross-town commute…
“Is it true, the Ugly Coyote Bar is coming to Key West?”
Actually it’s the Coyote Ugly Saloon from the group of bars made famous by the Coyote Ugly movie. It just opened in the space recently known as Big’uns (among other names), close to The Bull.
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