United & White St.
ALYSON CREAN CITY OF KEY WEST COMMUNICATIONS
City of Key West
Now that KCI Technologies, Inc. has been named to revitalize historic Duval Street, the first step is to reach out to business owners and the community to find out what they want to see of this vital corridor.
“The last facelift on Duval was back in the 1970s,” said City Manager Gregory Veliz. “Now we begin the process of community involvement -- public meetings, gathering ideas, talking to property owners – to find out exactly what each member of this community would like to see happen. There is no preconceived plan, that’s where the community’s opinion and vision comes in.”
In November of 2019, the City issued a request for qualifications for a firm that could guide the community to consensus then follow that plan to the desired facelift for Duval Street that revitalizes the area while protecting the city’s unique history and flavor. “Our approach will take into consideration the residents surrounding Duval Street, the cultural arts businesses, the retail and dining opportunities, and the entertainment establishments,” KCI wrote in their response to the RFQ. “One size will not fit all. Our approach will endeavor to create a cohesive experience that highlights each of these three sub-districts.”
“We will create a public outreach plan that is engaging and accessible,” KCI wrote. The goal of the revitalization is to draw residents to the area and ensure an experience that benefits the entire community. Community workshops and open house-style charettes are the first step. According to Veliz, this initial outreach is the most vital component to any undertaking of this magnitude.
“This is an opportunity for all of us to have a hand in what we envision for our city,” he said.
Applicants should be at least 21 years old and must have a high school education or the equivalent. They must be of good moral character and must not be convicted of a felony or a domestic violence related offense. They must possess a valid Florida’s driver’s license, have a responsible driving record, must not have been convicted of a misdemeanor involving perjury or false statement, and cannot be dishonorably discharged from any of the Armed Forces of the United States. Candidates must be able to pass a Florida Department of Law Enforcement record check, medical examination, drug screening, background investigation, psychological test, voice stress test, table of adult basic education test, physical agility test, and the criminal justice basic abilities test. The Key West Police Department is an equal opportunity employer and will consider applicants for all positions without regard to race, color, national origin, sex, age, handicap, marital status, religion or any other legally protected category.
Crime in Key West has been dropping continuously over the past few years, and this year it’s down a whopping 28.7 percent.
The main reason for the lower rate is a drastic drop in non-violent crimes. In 2019 there were 734 non-violent crimes. The number dropped to 450 in 2020.
There were a few more violent crimes: 106 in 2020, up from 95 in 2019.
Each year the Key West Police Department reports its crime statistics to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. These statistics are compiled for the entire state by the FDLE in its Uniform Crime Reporting system.
The analysis shows that the clearance rate for the department – the rate at which crimes are solved – have increased substantially and come in well above the state average of around 25 percent. Overall, for all crimes, the Key West Police Department shows a clearance rate of 30 percent. However, the clearance rate for violent crimes is 65 percent.
“I want to commend the dedicated men and women of the Key West Police Department for an outstanding job solving crimes,” said Chief Sean Brandenburg. “Our road patrol and detectives have been particularly responsible for the outstanding clearance rate on violent crime.”
Chief Brandenburg also noted that the officers’ working closely with the community have lessened crimes of opportunity like bike thefts or car break-ins.
Among other statistics reported:
- Aggravated assault was down from 68 in 2019 to 65 in 2020
- Bicycle thefts dropped from 135 to 99
- Incidents of shoplifting dropped from 135 in 2019 to 53 in 2020
- Thefts from motor vehicles dropped from 55 to 23
- There was one murder in 2020 and none in 2019
The City of Key West is cracking down on illicit chicken feeding after the City Commission voted unanimously to add stricter language to its animal ordinance. Additional language in chapter 10 of the City’s Code of Ordinances makes it unlawful to feed or set out water for chickens and pigeons. There is an exception for the keeping of the birds in fully enclosed coops or pens. Pigeons were included in the new law to avoid possible excuses by violators.
Violation of the ordinance will result in a $500 fine.
Over the years, feral chickens have been problematic as the number of birds has boomed, due in large part by people feeding them. The Key West Wildlife Rescue Center has played a big role in helping keep the chicken population down. Working with the city and residents, they have, since 2009 removed over 16,000 chickens from this tiny island.
According to Tom Sweet, who runs the Wildlife Rescue Center, virtually all of the birds that are trapped end up in new homes on the mainland.
“Our clinic maintains around a 50 percent survival and recovery rate for chickens that we rescue that come in already compromised with sickness or injuries,” Sweet wrote in a memo to the Commission. “An important point for the public to know is that virtually 100 percent of birds trapped through the community program make it to new homes on the mainland while around 50 percent of those rescued and treated recover and do as well.”
Sweet says feeding is the main reason the population has grown.
“These birds are nomadic by nature,” he wrote, “and exploit different areas for food in the wild and then move on to other areas. Once people start feeding them, they remain permanently in residential/business areas and begin to reproduce quickly.”
Although the Wildlife Center does not trap chickens, they can provide loaner traps with a small deposit. Still, trapping a group of birds will do no good if people continue to feed in the area. A new group of birds will move in, drawn by the easy meal. And those chickens will continue a legacy of crowing all night and tearing up gardens.
If residents want to trap the birds, or be referred to a professional trapper, contact the Wildlife Center at 305-292-1008. The dedicated staff there can also provide advice on other humane deterrents that can be deployed to discourage chickens.
If you do trap your own chickens, they must be brought to the Wildlife Center in a timely manner so that they are treated humanely and relocated to a mainland farm to live out their days.
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