Park Or Party Place? Key West Approves Improvements To Ocean End Of Duval Street

Aug 8, 2018

Duval Street is Key West's main drag, which stretches from the Atlantic Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico. The Gulf end of the street is busy, with lots of bars and restaurants. The Ocean end is public property; it's got a pier, nine parking spots and a Dumpster for the seaweed that collects at the shoreline.

But that is likely to change soon. This week the city approved plans to bring more people to the ocean end. It's set to become a so-called 'pocket park,' with tables where people can eat food from two nearby businesses, the Southernmost Beach Cafe and the Southernmost House guesthouse.

The improvements will be paid for by the businesses. Michael Halpern from the Southernmost House guesthouse said the city initially approached him about the project.

"Each time I agreed to do it, the city never moved forward. We've been talking about this for 10 years," Halpern said.

Some residents opposed it. Jay Abrahams, who lives in the neighborhood, said the city was handing off public property for private use and that few locals would likely view it as a park.

"This plan has turned into a crowded mess and will soon be two restaurants with alcohol being served and loud music," Abrahams said. "Let the partiers stay downtown. Leave the beautiful view uptown."

The City Commission approved the plan Tuesday by a 5-2 vote.