Key West expects to break ground on Truman Waterfront before the end of the year

Shovels aren't in the ground but design plans for the Truman Waterfront park in Key West are taking shape.

Engineering Director Jim Bouquet presented an update for the 33-acre waterfront property, at the end of Southard Street, at Tuesday's Key West City Commission meeting. Early layouts call for a multi-purpose field, an amphitheater, a community center and a central park area.

"This is a very grandiose plan here," City Commissioner Mark Rossi said. "I feel like we cannot afford this."

While the cost of developing the park is still up in the air, City Manager Jim Scholl said Thursday that there is money set aside for it.

"We've funded that every year since it started," Scholl said. "We've been putting money aside for the Truman Waterfront out of just capital dollars that we get."

The U.S. Navy deeded the waterfront to the city in 2002.

Scholl said that come Oct. 1, the start of the fiscal year, Key West should have $16,630,000 designated for the Truman Waterfront. If all goes as the city plans, construction, mostly infrastructure, would start at the end of the calendar year.

$250K for ship

Also Tuesday, the commission, by a 5-2 vote with Rossi and Commissioner Tony Yaniz dissenting, committed $250,000 to help restore the schooner Western Union.

Construction of the yellow pine and mahogany ship, known as the city's flagship, began in Grand Cayman and was completed in Key West in 1939. The ship, docked at the Key West Bight, is on the National Register of Historic Places.

The $250,000, from Key West Bight reserves, is contingent upon the nonprofit Schooner Western Union Preservation Society getting a $500,000 Florida Historic Preservation Grant.