On a recent windy evening, a trio of dogs happily frolicked about a vacant, fenced-in lot across the street from the city's historic seaport.
These dogs not only live in balmy Key West but have a variety of waterfront parks to visit, the latest at 250 Trumbo Road, aside the luxury Steamplant condominium complex and the Monroe County School District's offices.
"This is a dog island," said Don Rezendes, as his mixed breed Cody chased a Lab or two, admiring the Trumbo Road dog park. "There's a lot of room and we’re near the water."
A handmade sign, "Dog Park at the Bight," could soon become legitimate for the city-owned lot, as staff last week filed paperwork to make the location legally zoned for a dog park. The Development Review Committee will review the item at its 10 a.m. March 24 meeting at Old City Hall, 510 Greene St.
A dog park at the Trumbo Road lot makes sense since it has remained vacant for years, said City Commissioner Jimmy Weekley, who represents the neighborhood.
"The city has the right at any time to take it back," Weekley said. "If it's three years they get to use it, it's three years they get a dog park."
For years, the lot has done little more than store broken-down city vehicles or sat in need of mowing. Steamplant homeowners in 2011 made a deal with the city to turn it into a tree-lined park, but that agreement expired this year.
But at a time when Key West lacks affordable housing for working families, the dog-park proposal troubles one city leader.
Roughly an acre, the entire parcel at 250 Trumbo Road is worth more than $3.3 million, according to the Monroe County Property Appraiser's Office.
"It really needs to be preserved for potential affordable housing," Commissioner Sam Kaufman said. "Once it becomes a dog park, it's going to be hard to convince people to take a dog park away."
Key West proper also has a dog beach in the Casa Marina Resort neighborhood and Monroe County's dog park is across from Higgs Beach. Marathon and Islamorada also have dog parks.