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.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Citizen Letter to the Editor (June 29, 2007)

City can do better than assisted living proposal

We need more assisted living in Key West. Bayshore Manor is limited to 16 units. Many of our elderly must leave because they have no one to assist them through their twilight years. The so-called "assisted living" facility pitched for the Truman Waterfront is not the best way to meet this need. Yes, it'll provide more assisted units, but at what cost Is it really the best way?

Most of the Florida Keys Assisted Care Coalition project is not for assisted care. Over 70 percent of the units are for independent living -- people who can thrive almost anywhere with occasional extra help. Only 15 percent of the units in this project allow affordable assisted living. FKACC has subverted the Truman Waterfront vision into mostly a glorified retirement community.

Since "independent living" is possible almost anywhere, should the city give away prime waterfront land for such a development? Land meant to be enjoyed by us all?

Clouding the issue, FKACC calls it an "assisted and independent living facility." A more apt description is: "expensive retirement community with a few affordable assisted living units." The assisted-living component of the project amounts to two smaller buildings on less than an acre. The other approximately five acres FKACC wants will hold almost 100 nice (expensive) units not really much different (other than the beautiful waterfront location) than other nice condos on the island.

FKACC preys on emotions with a sales pitch about "care for our elderly" and "don't force them off this island we love." They imply that questioning their plan is akin to senior abuse, to distract from its troublesome details.

They insist we can't afford assisted living without subsidy from expensive retirement housing. Really? Our mayor claims to have looked the plan "up and down" and [he] thinks it's fair. However, recently he was convinced we need more transient rentals in Old Town. (Thankfully a judge overruled this.) I'm reluctant to trust his take on this.

Commissioner [Jose] Menendez envisions seniors of all means "gazing out at the ocean" as they draw their dying breaths. The FKACC plan is far from that vision. Despite all the free acreage (close to 20 percent of the entire Truman Waterfront), they only find room for four more affordable assisted units than Bayshore Manor provides. If the seniors end up needing substantial medical care, they'll be kicked out, anyway. Is this what you wanted, Jose?

Though the FKACC are good people attempting good work for a good cause, they've locked into one plan with no alternatives. The original LRA resolution called for the "request for proposals" process. Where are the others? Why must we vote on one proposal without seeing alternatives?

We can do much better. We can provide more than 20 affordable assisted units within this massive scarce waterfront land give-away. Why vote on this without seeing alternatives? If the commission doesn't want this shot down, come up with something as fair as the mayor claims, with more affordable assisted living units. With less waterfront given away for expensive retirement homes.

David Lybrand
Key West

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'll add the first comment myself here. The comment about "close to 20% of the entire Truman Waterfront" has been challenged. That is actually NOT a big exageration...

The total area for the facility is close to 6 acres (almost 1.5 acres from Keys Energy, over 4 acres from the City). The Truman Waterfront is about 33 acres. 6 acres out of 33 or 34 acres is about 18%.

That's fairly close to 20%. A bit of an exageration, but nothing like the misleading statements by the FKACC....