The good thing about having a dog is that when you have a chore to do your companion animal can ease the boredom. Case in point: the car needed a check up on Stock Island so after I dropped it off at Oily's shop I took Rusty for his morning constitutional. First we walked past the shrimp docks:
Commercial fishing is still an important part of Stock Island's economy, as is the general sort of light industry that keeps modern civilization going. Stock Island boasts some modern affordable housing too, in the form of Meridian West where working people can afford to rent.
Stock Island is unincorporated so the County doesn't require sidewalks or other such niceties. It tends to look a little chaotic and freewheeling which is a pleasant contrast to Key West. There is talk from time to time of incorporating Stock island into the city but it's hard to imagine how Key West could subdue the gentle non conformity of this place into the more rigidly run city.
Stock Island offers these kinds of homes to the low income workforce that keeps Key West functioning. As much as they may look run down these trailers are a resource that, if replaced could push out people who are barely hanging on.
There are development plans for Stock island and they have been stewing for a good many years. New marinas and new hotels are cropping up along the waterfront and plans were revealed in the newspaper a few months ago for major developments near highway one displacing dozens of trailer park residents. If these eyesores go,, the question becomes how do residents pay for better quality housing?
The fact is developers aren't looking to improve the quality of life of the working poor. This sort of development has turned Key West into a city of second homes, and commuting between Key West and the satellite islands has become the norm. It's not easy to live and work in Key West anymore.
Order is coming to Stock Island, and with it wealth, ad even though its been a long a long time coming the changes are starting to make themselves visible around the edges.
You don't see auto body shops, welders or back hoe operators in Key West where real estate is too expensive to support normal life functions. What happens when they get pushed out of Stock Island will be interesting.
The car was fine but I needed new front tires. Mike the mechanic asked me where I get my tires as there are no tire shops left in Key West. Banner Tire has become a Sonic burger shop and Sears Auto has apparently given up doing tires. Mike my mechanic was wondering what to do and I told him about my tir resource in Marathon, 50 miles away. My buddy Nick orders tires online and has a mobile mechanic come by his apartment in Key West and installs them there. These are the compromises life requires in this peculiar place.
Today it's tire shops that have been run out of town. I dread the day when the last motorcycle mechanic packs his bags and heads north. Or the last fisherman, or plumber or builder. It feels like the day is coming.