Key West’s Truman Waterfront: crown jewel or rubble?

Truman Waterfront

Truman Waterfront, named after US President Harry Truman


Depress ctrl and + keys together to increase zoom/font size; depress ctrl and – keys together to reduce

Christine Russell 2

Christine Russell responded to hers and my Truman Waterfront, etc. email conversation reported in yesterday’s Obi-Wan Kenobe and Darth Vader, Yoda is on well-deserved vacation, say, “Action speaks louder, Earthlings” – Key West and beyond post at

Hey Sloan –
After reading your comments to my email to you yesterday, I wanted to say something about one of your comments – or your opinions. You say “I note that you don’t say anything nice about Mayor Cates in your email.” Please do not put words in someone else’s mouth and please do not try to interpret what others say – stick to the facts. What I said was that the mayor stated I had said things that “were untrue”. No one appreciates being told they lied. I have spent an enormous amount of time at least the last 10 years attending charettes, TWAB meetings, CC meetings and doing a great deal of other reading and research on how other cites manage to move forward with projects such as our waterfront park. I have no interest in getting into a pissing match with the mayor or anyone else. I think he and I want the same thing – a fabulous park for our citizens and our tourists to enjoy. He and I just have different ideas on how to get there. I am sure he is frustrated – how could you not be after having a parcel of land 13 years and nothing there. I think the city is feeling pressured to DO SOMETHING.

Your always going to have different opinions from others on issues.
I have a different opinion than you with your RV park ideas for the park – but of course you are entitled to your opinion.

I imagine there are some that do not appreciate my opinions and ideas, they may think I am trying to hold up progress. Quit the opposite! Maybe the biggest difference of opinion I might have with the mayor or others is the course we now take to get the park – the ‘crown jewel” of Key West done. Some will tell you we have a plan, a plan that is been vetted to all and approved by the commission and loved by all – let’s move ahead. But there are others who acknowledge problems – big problems, and want to resolve those BEFORE moving ahead, approving monies to tear down the PAL building, rip up land, put in utilities and roads – because we fear if these problems are not resolved – it could set us back even further. That is JUST MY opinion. Only TIME WILL TELL. Just please do not try to create little wars that do not exist. That does not help anything, and we need to work together as a community of people.
Thanks Sloan.

I replied:
Hi, Christine –

I published your email verbatim and my comment about what you wrote about Mayor Cates was accurate. I was proud of you for simply stating the truth without then back-filling it with sugar, which I often have seen you do at city commission meetings. Not at Wednesday’s meeting, though. You let them have it without trying to smooth it over after you let them have it. Mayor Cates was not there, he was at a mayors conference in Washington D.C. Perhaps I should have added to my comment in today’s post that Mayor Cates has lied to me from time to time, so you would not feel all by your lonesome about what he told Bill Becker about you not telling the truth.

Bumped into Mike Mongo about noon today. He was taking a walk, I was on my bicycle. I asked if he is going to run for mayor this year, he said definitely no; what he saw at Wednesday’s city commission meeting regarding Truman Waterfront convinced him that he wanted nothing to do with that. I said Robert Cintron told me at the commission meeting that the city should give the Truman Waterfront land back to Navy. Mike said Bookie Henriquez told him, Mike, the same thing the the other day. I said I told Robert that he should have gotten the city to buy him comprehensive medical insurance and a burial policy, as a condition for him being on the Truman Waterfront Advisory Board. He laughed in the ain’t that the truth way.

I have a rather tough time calling that man-made rubble, parts of which were, may still be, a military toxic waste dump, the “crown jewel” of Key West. The crown jewel was the reef. What killed 95 percent of it, and what will kill the rest of it, and Mote Lab’s underwater coral farms, is infinitely more important than Truman Rublefront. Did it every occur to you, Christine, that the way Truman Rubblefront has gone, nowhere, for 12 years, might be a “sign” that none of the various attempts to grab and develop a piece of it have been what needs to happen out there? On my home planet that question would be rhetorical.

Mike Mongo agreed with you, that Shawn Smith [Key West’s city attorney] might well be the next city official to quit; Mike said Shawn already has let it be known he is not happy with how things are going with the city. I said that was not surprising; I used to practice law, it ain’t fun to represent clients who don’t listen to what their lawyer says, who go out of their way to make themselves more problems and their lawyer’s life harder.

Mike also agreed, Bob Vitas [Key West’s city manager] don’t seem too terribly happy with how the city is going, either. Robert Cintron told me at Wednesday night’s commission meeting that he bet Bob was wondering what he had gotten himself into, coming down here to be city manager?

The fact is, Mayor Cates staked his administration on building a full-service tranformational homeless shelter, which was an impossible project to anyone with half a brain, and on redoing Glynn Archer School for the new city hall, which may or may not turn out to be a great idea, mostly depending on what it ends up costing, on top of what the new fire station ends up costing at the Angela Street location, compared to what the total cost of the two would have been if both were done at the Angela Street location.

While Cates was going after those two dreams, he was content to let dreamers, with no chance of making their dreams come true, go after the “crown jewel” of Key West, Truman Rubblefront, which tells me Cates didn’t think it was more than rubblefront himself. If they wish to turn it into a park, then kill the special interest groups’ pies in the sky flutes and whistles, put in an irrigation system, plant tropical trees and shrubs, put in park benches, a public bathroom, pathways, and have a grand opening. I figure they can do that for about $2-3 million. Then, sit back and see how many people wander out there and use it. Then, you will know if it is the crown jewel or a wet dream, without spending a lot more millions to find out what kind of dream it was :-)


Christine wrote:
Well Sloan –

I have high hopes for what the park COULD be. Will it be realized? Maybe, maybe not, but I have not given up. I am a dreamer. I want everything undertaken to realize its highest potential. People can laugh at me. Call me crazy :-) Would not be the first time, but I can tell you I have realized all my dreams, one by one, and soon I will embark on another – maybe even crazier dream. Anyway, if it were not for the dreamers where would we be?

Another point – I always tell the truth. I have no reason to not tell the truth. And I have no personal agenda for any thing I ever speak out on.

Lastly, about the upcoming years of politics in Key West . It’s going to be a Dusey! You know that phase is from the car Duesenberg – I am a car girl…love and have/still own classics and sport cars. Anyway, there seems to be a great deal of posturing, speculation and talk going on about several races. I imagine everyone is assessing and reassessing the situation. Things change and whatever the situation is today – you can bet things will change by August. The only constant is change. Like I’ve said before it will be the most interesting of years!

Have a good weekend :-)

I wrote:
Well Christine,

About dreams, I envy you re all your dreams coming true.

On the sleeping dreams side, I sure have caught plenty of hell from lots of directions, but without my sleeping dreams, I pretty much would be blind, deaf and dumb about what goes on in my waking life, cause nearly always nothing is what it appears to be.

The only city race for office that interests me is the mayor’s race. In the county, the race for George Neugent’s seat might end up interesting me. Maybe the race for Robin Smith-Martin’s school board seat will interest me. The state races do not interest me, nor the national races. Not yet, anyway.

As for change, my experience is the status quo fights any effort to change the status quo, as if the effort is the Devil wanting the status quo’s very soul.

When I think if change for Key West, I think of elected city officials leaving office and new people taking their place; I think of cruise ships being banned from Key West; I think of Key West having a nude beach; I think of Wisteria Island becoming a city nature park; I think of lower Duval Street being a pedestrian and arts and crafts mall from 2 p.m. on each day; I think of no conch trains or trolleys on city streets; I think of all structures having solar panels and selling electricity back to the electric company; I think of Key West having a big community garden, guess where?; I think of trees along city streets with no power lines running through them; I think of the outer mole being open to the public again; I think of lots of things that could be different, which have nothing to do with me or what I want for myself. And, there are things I do want for myself, but they are personal and not relevant to public interests.

What do you want on Truman Waterfront, Christine? Leave everyone else out of it. What do you want it to be?


Christine wrote:
I like many of your ideas Sloan. I was on the Duval St Committee for many years – and nothing happened. I love many of the pedestrian streets that so many European cities have had forever, and now many American cities are creating pedestrian streets for people instead of cars.

But what would I like in a park – if it was just up to me and no one else – if I could be queen for a day and wave a magic wand over the park and create something special. I would start with trees. LOTS of trees – big mature trees that provide shade. And lots of grass. Grass I could lay down in and would be cool under the trees. Picnic tables and grills in part of the park because I love to get together with my friends and cook and eat. I would like a big sand lot to play in – build sand castles and sand sculptures. And then I would like a big open grassy field to fly kites in. There would be no power lines – there would be solar power, in fact my park would have a very low impact on the environment and surrounding neighborhood. There would not be parking lots everywhere, but there would be bike paths and lots of bike racks to park our bicycles. Maybe a few small lots for cars, and minimal roads, but there would be bus stops for buses to bring the elderly or people who can not walk distances. I would build a big wall in some abstract form that would appear to be a sculpture by day, and at night we would project and watch movies on the wall under the stars. I always liked drive-ins – but this would be better! And a medium size amphitheater in the round, that also was low impact where we could have small concerts, theater, comedy, where school children of all ages could perform and even graduations and other ceremonies could be held. I would like some kind of a water play ground – NOT a water park, but some of these dancing water gardens that sort of perform and you can play in. I love the water. I am a sailor, so I would like to have kayaks, and little sunfish sail boats, maybe stand up paddle boards. A pier for fishing with observation holes that are windows to the sea, and picnic tables with umbrellas on this pier. Maybe we could have extra horses with the police horses at the stables – now that I live in Florida, I never get to ride anymore. At Kensington Park in London people ride horses – why couldn’t we do the same? This could be a great feature for kids – working with animals and learning respect for animals – animals can often do things for problem children, and even problem adults that regular schools and jails can only dream of. And I would like a dog park, because the dog park over on White St is too far away for people in Bahama Village and Truman Annex.
I might even like a carousel! Instead of horses – it could have fish and dolphins and turtles.
AND I would like a weekly market – where I can meet my friends in the morning – shop for vegetables, flowers, plants and buy fresh bread and honey, maybe even fresh milk and eggs, and een fresh fish – right from our oceans. Vendors would sell food and there would be live music and tables where I could sit with friends, have a coffee and breakfast sandwich. A place to spend Saturday and or Sunday mornings and just run into friends – because it would be the place to be, the heart of the community.
In my dream park there would not be cars driving through our park – there would be a road to get to Ft Zach and to NOAA and the EcoCenter, and for the Navy (after all they did give us this property!). There definitely would NOT be any conch trains or trolleys carrying cruise ship passengers through my park every few minutes – that alone would ruin any ‘green’ park.
There would also be public art – either sculptures or art that is incorporated into the nature of the park – trees whose limbs become art forms and paths that are not cement but rather some kind of art. And there would be beautiful colorful trees – Poinciana, Tulip, and Orchid trees, and some big Rotal Palm trees – I like those.
It all is really beyond my imagination. But these things would create a park that I would love to come and spend time in.
I would love a park with all these things, but when I look at what the group Projects for Public Spaces creates in parks around the world – I am afraid my ideas are not so creative. They are rather mundane. But I would be happy with a park with the things I mention. I’m sure I could come up with better ideas given time. You know what’s most interesting, is this kind of a park would be real earth friendly, surrounding neighborhoods would love it, a well as all the residents and tourists, it would not cost much to build – and could probably be built in a year or so.
I forgot – my park would need restrooms too – after all that cooking and eating……
Thanks for the suggestion of dreaming about what I would put in the park.
It really put a smile in my head.

I wrote:

That would be a really nice park, but I think maybe there isn’t enough land to accommodate all of that, and – yikes! – where oh where would the testosterone lovers park all their trailers and trucks during the annual power boat race? What annual powerboat race? I can think of lots of things I’d rather see and hear in Key West’s harbor than mega-testosterone boats screeching round and round.

power boat races 2power boat races

Tarpon, manatee, mermaids …

Ta, ta


Sloan at Coco's

About Sloan

That's what this website is about, also and If you can't get a publisher to take on your wacky musing, you do it yourself.
This entry was posted in Today's FlaKey Drivel. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply