I am writing about a rock concert/music festival that is being proposed at Fort Zachary Taylor State Park in Key West. There is great harm to the state park if this proposal is allowed to go forward.
For some 32 years, Fort Zach has been a wonderful destination for visitors from around the world to enjoy the history of the fort as well as enjoy the beach and other recreational opportunities. Howard England’s original 1968 vision for the park was twofold: History and recreation, but not entertainment. He devoted more than 16 years almost single-handedly to bring the property from its status in 1968 as a Navy junkyard to the valuable historic and environmental marvel it is today.
However, I believe allowing an out-of-town rock concert promoter to commandeer the park with an entertainment venue for an estimated 20,000 to 30,000 attendees would grossly violate the sacred trust the Florida Park Service has been charged with since it assumed custody of the property in 1976.
Simply put, I believe there are too many down sides to the promoter’s proposal. How can the state ensure that no harm comes to this national historic site and national landmark? There is no reasonable room for such an entertainment venue in terms of attendees, parking, concessions, security and comfort accommodations. Such a large venue would also more than likely irrevocably damage the historic property as well as the beautiful natural environment of the park.
Add that to the fact that the promoter apparently won’t consider using the city’s soon-to-be-finished Truman Waterfront amphitheater immediately adjacent to the park, and the promoter’s proposal becomes even more egregious. I read that even Jimmy Buffett was considering playing at the amphitheater.
I urge all Monroe County citizens and officials to ensure that no damage occurs to the park.
Edward England, Fairborn, Ohio
Editor’s note: The writer is a longtime volunteer at Fort Zachary Taylor.