Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Stock Island Fire Station

Apropos of nothing I was cruising up Olivia Street and was struck by this polite bunch of bicycle tourists getting the guided treatment through the Meadows. Had I been on the Bonneville I probably wouldn't have taken the time to take their picture. Tell the truth: it makes you wish you were down here spending money to keep our economy afloat and the snow at bay...However, the saying goes that "every paradise has it's serpent" and that is no less true in the Keys where controversy rears it's head at the least provocation. Lately the paper has been making mincemeat of the School District where the super dooper scandal-free, Conch-free administration imported from Massachusetts hired one of their own attorneys to run the Finance Department and it turns out the Massachusetts Conch doesn't know how to do the job so the Finance Department has collapsed into chaos. The Attorney friend of the ex-Massachusetts Superintendent gets to keep his well paid job and the District plans to hire a new Finance person to balance the books. Whoops- not a great move for a new school board dedicated to reducing Admin costs! Meanwhile the College where the much maligned Jill Landesberg-Boyle was ousted for not kow-towing to Conch developers has been replaced by an Administration that has been sending Tallahassee a bunch of jumbled up budget numbers. Red faces all round and new books are being cooked to satisfy the State. One hopes they will be accurate as the College employees and students deserve better. Then there is the Mosquito Control District lumbering along arguing whether or not a senior officer should be fired for misuse of cell phones. Whether or not they can get their big girls blouses on and do the job the District Attorney is tearing the District a new posterior with an investigation of the abuse. Meanwhile the County which has been struggling to beef up it's Fire Department has been trying to sort out what to do for a new Fire Station on Stock Island.The current building is a bit of an outhouse stuck on a small triangle of land in the middle of Stock Island. Well, the north middle really, across the street from the redoubtable Tom Thumb inconvenience store.Just lately the County has been quite scandal free which is nice. That's not to say people aren't bitching about something or another all the time but on the whole things are ticking along nicely under the guidance of the improbable Roman Gastesi. The Administrator came from Up North to deal with the crazy politics of Monroe County and has managed amazingly well. They say he's even tempered and a good listener which is a nice change.Anyway the county wants to renovate the Fire Station and they have been batting around a few ideas. The best idea it seems is to keep this central location and expand their plot of land by stretching across the street behind the current location.
Apparently the property owner is amenable to selling and the price is right according to the county so who knows perhaps the firefighters will have a new home before too long. The fire station completely fills it's small plot of land. This is a shot looking northwest up MacDonald Avenue towards Highway One.The fire station has decidedly outlived it's allotted lifespan and accommodations are rather sub standard according to the paper.
And there does appear to be land to spare.Big development plans were in the works for the entire island with developers madly buying up large chunks of land. For a while there it looked as though the laboring classes were going to be losing their trailer parks but fortunately the Great Depression kicked in just in time. I guess it's an ill wind that blows no one any good.I can't imagine having to hike to fill jugs with drinking water. Taking her picture I felt like Dorothea Lange. Life on Stock Island is rather more hard scrabble for a lot of residents than you might imagine. especially if you judge life in the Keys by the opulence of the Old Town mansions. Or the serenity of a Key West bicycle tour...
I am going to try to remember where I archived this picture so in a year or two we may compare the past to the glorious new future. A shovel ready project, perhaps.