Key West tackles parking garage debate

Key West city commissioners will air out a proposal to build two parking garages in downtown Key West with a workshop set for today.

It starts at 5:30 p.m. at City Hall, 1300 White St. No vote is on the agenda, only discussion, but today could illuminate a consensus on the commission.

City Commissioner Richard Payne wrote a 24-page position paper in favor of two new parking garages, one at 609 Greene St. and one at 616 Simonton St., saying it’s time to provide ample parking for visitors as well as locals he said don’t go downtown because of the lack of parking.

Payne said he generally doesn’t favor paving over land but in this case believes new parking garages are the solution to traffic congestion.

The Greene Street garage would be built next to the Conch Republic Seafood Company and hold 300 spaces on three levels, including rooftop parking.

The garage debate comes at at time when the city has in recent years hired a sustainability coordinator and a bicycle/pedestrian coordinator who both have advocated for fewer cars downtown.

Commissioner Clayton Lopez, who represents Bahama Village in the city’s downtown, said he would support a parking garage but not in Old Town.

“Old Town is not the place for that, based upon the fact that it’s got the greatest amount of congestion,” Lopez said, adding that New Town or Stock Island may be better locations.

“Somewhere out there would make way more sense,” Lopez said.

Gwen Filosa: @KeyWestGwen