Thursday, March 4, 2021

Beautification

More changes are planned for the city of Key West according to the newspaper. One of them I find particularly odd but there again none of these improvements should be unexpected. This city has voted to limit cruise ships, their sizes and the number of people that can land in the city. The city has a plan to reinforce and repair and enlarge cruise ship docking facilities to the tune of $3.4 million. Which allows one to imagine that grants and so forth had been appropriated long before last year's vote. Nevertheless I find myself perplexed.  
I thought the armory on White Street was looking quite toothsome in the weak winter sunlight a few days ago so I made a couple of pictures. I like how Key West looks and I shall look forward to seeing what shade contraptions are envisioned for Mallory Square. After 190 years without them the time is come to shade the square, the place where people go to see the sun go down.
And the newspaper reports that North Roosevelt Boulevard is up for a facelift. It is not attractive while being the main entry to the city. Can't argue with that, as the Boulevard is as ugly as sin and always has been. The incredibly disruptive work that was carried out to drain the road has been equally incredibly effective and I wish some important person would stand up and thank the State for the work because North Roosevelt no longer floods. I don't suppose the work will last forever given the effects of sea level rise but for now the Boulevard is easy to drive in heavy rain. 
Meanwhile the pesky Boulevard (North Roosevelt's familiar name) looks ugly. The city wanted to remove the high maintenance coconut palms lining the seawall but residents got up in arms about that. No one wanted native palmettos or similar coconut free palms. I can hardly begin to imagine what confusion will be generated by a requests for ideas from residents for a nicer looking Boulevard.
A few years ago consultants, bless their active little hearts, suggesting cutting down South Roosevelt Boulevard along Smathers Beach to one lane with an expansive median and other visual delights. That beautification scheme went over like the proverbial lead balloon as the speed limit is useful inasmuch as slow pokes can hold 30 or 35 in one lane and gatherers of speeding tickets can speed in the other lane. I would bet more speeding tickets are handed out on South Roosevelt than any other street just because people don't realize the fastest way out of town is the Boulevard no matter how fast you take the beach road. . I drive there because I want to enjoy the view but that puts me firmly in the dithering visitor category so two lanes suits me fine and I let the fine hungry speeders try their luck..
Key West is a conundrum. This is a town with flashes of brilliance and tons of disagreements and occasional bad ideas. I am holding out for a pedestrian Duval Street with pleasant stores, places to sit, flower beds creating a lovely peaceful open space downtown. I can see in my mind's eye a downtown worth visiting, not a place for vapid shopping and drinking. Why not enjoy beautiful architecture currently wasted, perfect weather invisible in the darkened recesses of bars, why not eat outside, go to the movies in the evening and hang out to meet friends without the need to explain yourself.
I saw a camper van crossing Fleming Street and I wondered what I will come back to in a  few years? 
I have no doubt Old Town will look the same more or less. If you check Key West in the state archives you can recognize landmarks and often streets and buildings on them from a hundred years ago. It's that sense of timelessness that is at risk whenever focus groups get bogged down in suggesting change. I suppose to some extent we are all afraid of change and of making things  worse.
On the one hand you have to admire the Mayor for taking the mandate for change and running with it, on the other you have to hope for the best. She has been totally hard core with the mask mandate which riles a bunch of people up but she has stuck to her guns: masks are required.
I have a sneaking feeling eventually one might wonder how people ever got by without sun shades at Mallory Square because as we know the nature of humans is to get used to whatever requirement you set down before them.  And in one sentence I suppose that sums up the greatest irritation of the virus: if it hasn't killed or maimed you it has inconvenienced your routine and what could be worse than that? I'm reaching the point that not wearing a mask feels weird on the streets of Key West...I'm glad no one will be asking my opinion about changes to the city topography because I have no idea what to think anymore.