Key West looks to add sports fields, relocate PAL gym

Reed Stanhouse created the cigar sculpture in Key West.
Reed Stanhouse created the cigar sculpture in Key West.

Without comment, the Key West City Commission made two moves this week that could affect local youth sports.

First, the commission agreed 6-0 to have city staff negotiate relocating the Police Athletic League’s gym from its scruffy spot on the Truman Waterfront to the gym at the new City Hall complex. Currently, the PAL gym shares a wall with the police horses’ stalls.

Next, City Commissioner Richard Payne’s proposal to have staff deliver a report on “what can be done most immediately to create playing fields” on property next door to Key West International Airport, namely Little Hamaca Park and the Hawk Missile Site.

The commission would have to give final approval on both issues.

But one local wildlife expert asked the city to reconsider the area Payne likes for sports fields, saying it will only become a littered, noisy spot that is now quiet and natural.

“Little Hamaca and the surrounding salt marsh are one of the island’s last havens for protected native birds and wildlife,” Thomas Sweets of the Key West Wildlife Center wrote. “Some of the species affected would include white‐crowned pigeons, osprey, wading birds, migratory raptors, bats and horseshoe crabs.”

Cigar sculpture

The city will kick in up to $3,000 to restore a 12-foot-tall cigar sculpture for the Gatoville Pocket Park, 613 Louisa St.

The money will come from a community fund that has more than $400,000, according to the Art in Public Places Board.

“Such an expenditure should be considered an investment which will support the maintenance and conservation of the city’s public art inventory,” according to a memo from the board to the commission. Reen Stanhouse, who created the hand-rolled aluminum sculpture, will do the restoration, which is pegged to cost a total $5,700.

Gwen Filosa: @KeyWestGwen