Key West residents won a major battle against cruise ship pollution with a vote by the City Commission. Key West Committee for Safer, Cleaner Ships explains the events, writing:
After two hours of public comment and a half-hour of discussion on the dais, the proposed Operating Agreement with Pier B Development Corporation was defeated 5-2 last night (Lopez and Wardlow dissenting). City Hall was more packed than at any time in memory — with dozens standing along the walls in the chambers and dozens more watching via video feed in an overflow room set up by the City to accommodate the crowds.
Please thank Mayor Johnston and Commissioners Davila, Kaufman, Hoover, and Weekley for voting to reject the proposed Agreement. Our great gratitude goes out to them, and to all of you as well. You all gave power and meaning to our research and planning, and helped secure last night’s narrow victory with the emails, visits, texts, and phone calls to Commissioners that can make small town politics so meaningful and so personal.
The Commission also unanimously adopted an ordinance which establishes a fund for water quality monitoring and coral reef restoration, following impressive presentations from Dr. Patrick Rice at the College of the Florida Keys and Dr. Michael Crosby of MOTE Marine. Our Committee’s request to coordinate the City’s water quality monitoring efforts with the Water Quality Protection Program was incorporated into the ordinance as a last-minute amendment.
This culminates a series of three important votes taken by our City Commission in recent weeks. Two of these three votes were unanimous. To recap:
1.) City Resolution 22-073, adopted last month by unanimous vote, directs cruise ship traffic away from City properties at Mallory and the Mole; and ensures there will be no more two-ship or three-ship days. It also requires the City to coordinate with the US Navy, Florida Dept of Environmental Protection, and US Army Corps of Engineers to ensure that cruise ship operations conform to all applicable laws and permit conditions. We have filed a series of non-compliance notices to these agencies in recent months and look forward to the City’s support of this ongoing effort to ensure that cruise ship operations are conducted within the law.
2.) The City rejected the Proposed Operating & Settlement Agreement for Pier B. Thus, Pier B may not bring in cruise ships exceeding 1005’ in length and may not use City property at Mallory Square without formal written permission from the City Manager in compliance with Section 82-31(b).
3.) New Section 80-3 has been created within the City Code of Ordinances to establish a Water Quality Monitoring Fund and a Coral Reef Restoration Fund. This is an important first step toward understanding the threats to clean, clear water in the Florida Keys and to restoring some of the corals which we have lost.
We are gratified with these recent victories, which have allowed us to regain some of what we lost when the State overturned our local election, but there will surely be more struggles to come. We realize it may only be a short time before Pier B tries to strike a new deal, now that they know what we know about the flaws in their contract history with the City. We will continue to need your moral and financial support as we think through our next steps.
Thank you. Please thank your Commissioners.
As always, we will keep you posted.
Key West Committee for Safer, Cleaner Ships
Evan Haskell, President
Jolly Benson, Vice President
Arlo Haskell, Treasurer
David Dunn, Secretary
Capt. Will Benson, Member-at-large
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