Tuesday, October 6, 2009

New Directions

Softly softly one hopes for the best. Morgan McPherson is gone and Craig Cates has won a resounding victory at the polls, the paper says 2,777 votes against the incumbent's 1748. This is a small town in an off year election so people who live in the city and actually turn up to vote carry all the weight. Mayor Craig Cates will have Commissioners Billy Wardlow, Jimmy Weekly and Clayton Lopez on the dais with him. The comments section in the paper's electronic edition blames Morgan McPherson's support for the former schools Superintendent Randy Acevedo for losing him the vote by a decisive margin. I did not expect Cates to win, and certainly not to win without a run off. After an election, especially one with an upset, one hopes for change.
Meanwhile voters kept the two year term for city mayor, declining to extend it to four and the city voters also declined to sell off the piece of land the city owns, almost by accident, under the Pier House Resort.
At this point I'm guessing then Bahama Conch Community Land Trust is breathing a sigh of relief as Cates seems to support them, and the water park suggested by McPherson will no longer be likely at the Truman Waterfront.
Some people think this is a victory for Outsiders in Key West and a defeat for Conchs. For the city to progress in difficult times these labels ought to be ditched, but anyone who thinks Cates isn't a Conch needs to think again.
Who did I vote for? Happily I live in the county and didn't get a ballot. I'm looking forward to the future as a city employee with hope for better things to come in tough times.

El Rancho, Good Night

It may not be the sterling landmark that graces the front of travel brochures but 830 Truman has been a landmark for decades for people looking for somewhere to stay in Key West without a lot of frills.The light will no longer be left on for travelers at El Rancho Motel and according to The Citizen this state of affairs will continue for the next year while the owners give the place a much needed do-over.Well, let's face it, until it was announced the place was getting torn down we rode by the unassuming motel a million times a day hardly noticing the modest little 1950s decor.But now, now that the wrecker's ball, or local equivalent is on the way, this is when we wax sentimental and everyone wants to get their picture taken in front of the charmingly out-of-date facade.
The El Rancho was relatively cheap and cheerful with all basic amenities in a package that in no way resembled the cute Key West cottage that the upscale Bed and Breakfast's boast as their selling point. Here was a place that offered honest-to-goodness off street parking and a not too long walk to Duval, four blocks away.One can wax sentimental about the old place but the phoenix that promises to rise from these unpromising ashes should be really quite interesting. Again, according to the paper the new El Rancho scheduled to open late next year should be a model of environmental efficiency. The family that owns the place expect to get El Rancho ranked in the embarrassingly short list of environmentally friendly lodgings in the Keys, less than three dozen so far throughout Monroe County.The new El Rancho promises more efficient insulation, extensive recycling of everything including water for toilets and irrigation as well as an innovation the Citizen took time to marvel at. The motel will have... "a high-tech system activated through room key-cards that will turn off lights and turn up air conditioners when visitors leave their rooms." Unhappily this piece of whiz bang modernity has been a staple in European hotels for donkey's years. You'd think the ecologically fragile Florida Keys would be ahead of the curve, but even today basic recycling is a thing of wonder around here, and controversy, still.The swimming pool will be replaced by a salt water model and I am forced to wonder where the salt water will come from as this is anything but waterfront property.Meanwhile fencing, signs and tape are combined in an effort to keep squatters and curiosity seekers like me out of the street front property.
Across the street the full moon was shining down on what we think of as a more traditional Key West accommodation, the classic Victorian home:And forty minutes away by Bonneville is my home nestled in the silent salt flats of the Outer Darkness of the far suburbs of Key West.I have my own salt water pool on all sides of my little house and my off street parking is shaded to boot. It's good to be home after tasting the urban madness of Key West for another night of work.
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And indeed after one more night's work the demolition has begun. Officers on patrol last night were amazed to see El Rancho coming down because much of the buildings photographed above are now gone:
And presumably the pieces left will be gone too before the week is out. The demolition crew turned this essay into history in short order.