11 June 2024

Music capital of the Southeast? - Weekly briefing - June 11, 2024

Essential human-curated Florida Keys news, all in one place. 

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Our Community

Music capital of the Southeast? The Key West City Commission received a presentation and discussed possibly spending $30 million on rebuilding or renovating the Coffee Butler Amphitheater, which opened in 2017.
  • Supporters of the idea, including the mayor and most commissioners, imagine that the upgrade would result in more big-name concerts that would yield up to $60 million annual benefit to the Keys economy due to increased tourism. The plan would tap TDC funds (from the so-called 'bed tax' on hotel stays to pay for the upgrade. The conceptual design can be viewed here
Wait until July. The KW Commission delayed to July its consideration of adding referendums authorizing up to $300 million in bonds for a variety of long delayed projects. Recent letters to the Editor of Keys Weekly argued against and for the prospective bond issues.  

Square groupers found by divers in Key Largo made national news

Nobel Peace Prize nomination. A Key West man and his business partner in Miami were nominated for the prestigious honor for their invention of a machine that produces drinking water from air.

Airport construction topped off. The 48,802 square-foot addition bringing jet bridges and other improvements to the Key West International Airport is scheduled to open in Spring 2025

Born of necessity. During and after Hurricane Irma in 2017,  Linda Cunningham and retired journalist John Teets brought together vital storm and recovery information, all in one place. By the time they closed their “newsroom” in late September, they had reached more than a million people around the world.
  • As best she can tell — there is still no comprehensive Monroe County-Key West strategy for sharing with the public up-to-date hurricane news.in one easy-to-find place. 
Big wins, on Key West timeChris Hamilton celebrated progress on seven major projects in Key West

Our Eyes

Lynne Bentley-Kemp

Previously in Key West Voices

Scary 2024 storm season began on June 1st. Amid predictions for an extremely active storm season, storm-related stories appeared locally. Although the official season runs from June 1 to November 30th, storms can happen earlier or later. 
  • Little girl, big impact. The arrival of the La Niña (which means 'little girl' in Spanish) weather pattern brings increased risk of dangerous storms.
  • Record hot water. The tropical Atlantic is abnormally warm, helping set the stage for a busy hurricane season, according to an early forecast by scientists at Colorado State University. Higher ocean temperatures provide more energy to fuel stronger storms.  
  • Tremendous heat. Sea surface temperatures at the end of May were about where they should be in the middle of summer.
  • Stormy history. A review of some Keys storm history was sobering. 
  • Evacuation guidance. Government agencies have carefully designed evacuation plans all set, but under some scenarios — like a rapidly intensifying hurricane — county officials might not distinguish among population groups or zones of the Keys.  
  • Apps to download. Keys Weekly offered a concise list of recommended apps to install on your phone, now
Trash costs going up. In a 5-0 vote May 15, the Monroe Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) tentatively approved a 20% increase in the cost of residential trash collection in unincorporated Monroe County. Officials are in the midst of negotiations for a new contract with three trash hauling companies.

ROGO / BPAS survey. As part of its year-long process to determine whether and how many additional residential building permits should be issued across Monroe County, the first of several surveys was made available to the public on behalf of the BOCC. Rather than seeking input from residents on the crucial questions of evacuation policy and the capacity of the Keys, this iteration focused on educating the public on the mechanics and nuances of building permit allocations. The survey is at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/MCROGOSurvey1 

Key West bond issue. Keys Weekly published a letter to the editor elaborating why approval of November's referendum authorize a $300 million line of credit for the city is a bad idea

Southernmost Point Plaza planning meeting. The City of Key West scheduled a meeting on June 13 to gain community input on the proposed design for a planned revamp of the area around the Southernmost Buoy.

Wisteria Island case decided. A federal judge ruled in favor of the U.S. government in a court case to determine the ownership of Wisteria Island in Key West Harbor.

No hablo español. Linda Cunningham wrote that Key West is a Spanish-speaking town.

Workforce transportation. Chris Hamilton enthused about new on-demand micro-transit service targeted for workers.

Pride. Along with storm season, Pride month arrived.  

Blown around, sometimes. Mark Hedden considered what our birds do during storms