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Key West park undergoing a face lift

Bayview Park has seen better days, Key West residents say. But despite a financially restrictive budget year, the city is planning renovations to bathrooms and a new bandstand, along with a list of other improvements at the Truman Avenue park.

"It's one of those facilities that's been put on the back burner for some time," Public Works Director R.B. Havens said. "We had some money set aside and had been looking at it."

Boys and Girls Club of Key West Executive Director Dan Dombrowski said he'd like the bathroom renovations to be the city's first priority. The club is based at the public park.

"The shared bathroom is a real problem," he said. "It's like the high school having a public bathroom in the middle of the high school."

Dombrowski says he's seen drug deals and homeless people undress and bathe in the bathrooms. But, he added, the police presence has greatly improved since last year.

In April 2007, Dombrowski called police about vagrants harassing Boys and Girls' Club children. It took police about 20 minutes to respond, according to records.

The Police Department is across the street from the park.

But now officers make regular trips around the park and talk to the children, Dombrowski said. "The police are doing more to reach out to the kids."

Public Works renovated the park's basketball court. It also removed an old bandstand that was near the Boys and

Girls Club and renovated another one closer to the Police Department; the cost is $31,550.

New antique-style light fixtures will be installed for $10,000 and repairs to the tennis shop, bleachers and softball press box will amount to $67,000.

A total of $750,218 is planned for fiscal year 2008-09 covering all city facilities. The Bayview Park portion would be approximately $167,000.

The city will pay for the improvements through infrastructure funds, which come from a penny sales tax, Havens said.

"I don't know what provoked the projects this year," City Commissioner Dan Kolhage said. "We had some money set aside."

Bayview Park used to have picnic tables, but Deputy Public Works Director Greg Veliz said they were removed about eight months ago for refurbishing. Plans have changed and new tables will likely be installed.