Key West needs more and better care facilities for its senior citizens. This blog will discuss ways to do so. The grandiose give-away promoted by the "Florida Keys Assisted Care Coalition" is not the best way. We can do much better.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Citizen Letter to the Editor (July 19, 2007)

Public should decide on assisted living plans

Recently Joan Higgs of the Florida Keys Assisted Care Coalition (FKACC) responded to my concerns about the retirement community they propose for the Truman Waterfront.

Her response continues to distort the issues involved. She stated that there will be 40 assisted units, however she left out the fact that only 20 of those will be affordable. All of the units at Bayshore Manor are affordable (any bed can be subsidized if a need is shown), but only 20 of the 40 units in the proposed waterfront facility would be affordable. The rest would be so expensive that the average Conch would be left out.

She stated that it's convenient to have the assisted units close to the expensive retirement homes because couples might need to split up with one in each facility. But think about it: With the limited number of assisted units available, and the waiting lists that would be involved, what are the odds that two members of a single family will "make the cut" to get into two separate units simultaneously?

Only people with the resources to live in the full-price (non-affordable) units may be able to buy their way into that kind of arrangement. Certainly not the average Conch. Does this justify giving away free use of all of this land for those few cases?

Joan "takes exception" to my claim that FKACC preys on emotions in their attempt to get this free land for their retirement community, but her letter spends several paragraphs talking about "seeing the pain" and "frail couples" being "tucked in."

She accuses those who aren't touched as being outside our "One Human Family" and not being a "compassionate human."

I believe this is exactly the point I was trying to make.

She asks that we trust the FKACC when they say there is no better option.

I'm sorry, there must be other options. People are ready to have assisted living on the waterfront, but they want more than 20 affordable units. They certainly don't want a big set of expensive retirement condos as imposing as the original plan for the Watermark development crowding the park.

Let "us" be the ones to decide which plan is best. Don't try to force a single plan onto us. Give us some options.

David Lybrand
Key West

Friday, July 13, 2007

Solares Hill Letter to the Editor (July 13, 2007)

Dear Editor:

The big guns at the FKACC have seen fit to accuse me of a case of NIMBY in my contesting of their project for the Truman Waterfront. Once again they're using smoke and mirrors to try to confuse the citizenry of our fair city.

The fact is, I did NOT call for the affordable assisted living facility be located elsewhere. Indeed, that's exactly what the original vision for the Truman Waterfront called for, and I have no problem with it. I welcome it. What I do not welcome there is a large expensive retirement complex like the FKACC is proposing.

Did ANYBODY, other than the FKACC folks, ever call for a big retirement community there? Why is this the ONLY plan that they have presented to us? The facility was supposed to be ASSISTED LIVING. And people wanted it to be affordable. That is what the original vision for the waterfront called for. The FKACC project is a subversion of that vision, despite their denials.

They state that there are no alternative sites available for their project, but that assumes their project is the ONLY WAY to provide assisted living. As I mentioned, they have locked themselves into a single plan and are not willing to look into other WAYS (not sites) to accomplish the goal. Do it at the Truman Waterfront, but do it differently.

I was accused of making "invented assertions" -- but their responses try to make the claim that the facility will not be on prime waterfront land! The only thing between the FKACC retirement homes and the water will be park space and the marina. That's about as prime of a waterfront location as I could ever hope for. Who's inventing what here?

No matter how you want to shuffle the numbers, the facts are these:
  • Bayshore Manor has 16 affordable assisted living units
  • FKACC's plan has 20 affordable assisted living units

FKACC can obfuscate things by claiming that people can share rooms at their facility. That's great, but 20 units are 20 units. In all that nice space, ONLY 20 affordable assisted units!

The other 20 assisted units would be at full market cost, which would rule out most all of us. We could never afford those. Why not work to find a way to make all 40 of them affordable?

FKACC may be very proud of their 95 "independent living" units (only 8 of which are affordable) that will consume most of the space allotted, but come on: who proposed putting such a "retirement homes" development on the Truman Waterfront? Those units will be out of reach for most of us, so why should WE subsidize them with free land? The FKACC seems to have lost touch with the average member of our community. They're setting most of their focus on the ones with access to larger capital assets.

Let's get our focus back on ASSISTED living. AFFORDABLE assisted living. And leave the expensive retirement homes for the developers to make their money on elsewhere. We owe that to our community.

David Lybrand
Key West