Old Key West Navy Yard To Become New City Park
The land along Key West's western shore was one of the first areas of the island to be developed, when the U.S. Navy established a base there in the 1820s. It eventually became known as Truman Annex, after the president who liked to vacation in Key West. Now it's called the Truman Waterfront, and it's set to become a new park for the city.
Key West Mayor Craig Cates says it's always been an important part of the city.
"It was a huge Navy yard, a big part of the Key West economy," Cates says. More than 15 years ago, in a round of downsizing, the Navy handed the property over to the city, 27 acres in all.
The city has been planning all that time to turn the property into a public park, but has had to wait for multiple clean-ups of the property, to bring it from a working boatyard to a park where it's safe for kids to play in the grass.
In the meantime, the city has set aside more than $12 million and expects to break ground on phase 1 of the project later this year. That will include new roads and entrances to Fort Zachary Taylor State Park and the property that the Navy still owns in the area.
Cates also wants to start working on a new amphitheater that could host concerts and other performances, taking advantage of the waterfront location and views of the sunset. Half of the $4 million tab for the amphitheater will be picked up by the Monroe County Tourist Development Council, Cates says.
"Our goal is not so much that it's going to make a lot of money for the city of Key West," he says, "but it's part of the package that attracts people to Key West," he said.