The Mayor of Key West has prevailed and I am glad of that. Change is coming to White Street where the storied Glynn Archer School is now just a shell and will soon become the new and modern City Hall. The tiger has gone, leaving behind a fenced-in hole suitable for a Cheyenne inspection. Key West Diary: El Tigre.
It's been a hard fought battle with everyone who has an opinion in the city and outside it pitching in with advice. This week the Key West Citizen reporting on the budget called the planned new fifteen million dollar city hall "grand." The former city hall on Angela Street was already elderly when Hurricane Wilma dumped a shed load of water on a roof that was past it's sell-by date. The building didn't flood in that epic flooding event in the Keys but it got moldy from rain leaks. Some people wanted the offices rebuilt while others have argued, persuasively it seems, for a new fire station with a parking building and no city hall and that new fire station is scheduled cost between four and five million. Key West Diary: Glynn Archer City Hall
Then came talks with the school district which went well for the city as the school district is in financial disarray with a Board that couldn't organize a sock drawer and apparently has no clue how to balance it's financial books. They folded after some opposition to giving up the school and handed the keys over to the city. Mayor Cates fought off suggestions to keep city hall in it's current temporary location on Flagler Avenue and now it seems opposition is silent and city hall will go ahead. The end of the school year saw the end of Glynn Archer Middle School, named for a famed Keys educator who now only has 14th Street as a memorial - Glynn Archer Drive.
HOB is the middle school recently rebuilt and to such a height that neighbors got mad and the School Board, as usual, shrugged their collective shoulders and said sorry but that's the way it is, sorry for the monstrosity in oyur back yard. Horace O'Bryant students should do a lot better in the new building especially now that this school is gone. Horace O'Bryant Middle School - Index Why there was a note in Russian pinned to the door of Glynn Archer beats me!
House Of Brats as it is known affectionately around town, has been here for a long while and there was some sentiment expressed on the last day of school as the place closed for the last time. Saying goodbye to Glynn Archer school | KeysNews.com The thing is though the school was really worn out and now the shell can be preserved in all its Palladian glory while a thoroughly modern city hall goes up inside.
I like this location as its away from the tourist part of town and the school footprint is huge on this block so there will be lots of room for the employees and all the vehicles that end up crowding the city's nerve center. Access is great with White Street and United intersecting right here. Emergencies in Key West usually involve weather so that act that the National Weather Service is right across the street can only be a good thing.
That the police department is about four blocks away will be a good thing too I think, especially as I work at night when city hall is empty, but for administrators it's got to be a good thing to be working close to each other. And when you look at the building you know Mayor Cates was right:
But there are going to be problems. For instance, what happens to Dairy Queen? It's got to have been a blow to lose those middle schoolers and their appetite for soft serve. Tourists like to know where locals go to eat and they get mad when I say Outback and Miami Subs because they want to know we spend scads of cash eating out every night. Actually DQ is extremely popular, and you will see Conch cars with DQ stickers on the back. A Monroe County label on a car license plate is the state's way of identifying local residents, but locals born and bred here know better and stick those two innocuous letters in their vehicles... I don't but I'm not a Conch.
I'm looking forward to the new city hall.