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.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Keynoter Letter to the Editor (sent Sep 12, 2007)

(At the end of August, 2007, the Hometown PAC asked me debate an FKACC representative at an upcoming election forum at the Tropic theater. Unfortunately I had to be out of town the week of the debate, so I recommended to them that Bob Kelly might be an alternative voice. Apparently neither he nor anyone else was available. So the moderators, including Keynoter editor Larry Kahn, lofted a few softball questions at the FKACC speaker. Afterward I wrote this letter to Larry for his paper, but it never ran. In fact the KeyNoter never ran ANY letters questioning the FKACC plan, despite several that were submitted.)

Once again at the recent public forum the FKACC continues their quest for free land for a big expensive condo community on our precious waterfront. They again obscure the fact that their huge project only provides a very limited amount of affordable assisted care (only 20 units).

They blur the fact that the NON-assisted component of their project is similar to the infamous Watermark project that horrified the community around the Key West Bight. That's right, most of their facility will be big 3-story buildings, holding 95 NON-assisted-living condos, where the residents can be healthy enough to still be employed.

They claim that the project, on the prime location that would be granted to them for free, will be beneficial to all. Excuse me? With only 20 affordable assisted units in a project of 135 units? And 95 of which aren't even assisted living? How many average islanders will that benefit?

Please don't think that the complaint about the expensive retirement homes means that the assisted living facility itself is not welcome at the waterfront. Indeed just the opposite: there should be MORE affordable assisted living units there!

Why not toss out all the expensive non-assisted retirement homes and bump up the number of assisted units to ONE HUNDRED. And qualify ALL of them for subsidies (just like Bayshore Manor)? That would give 100 locals a shot at affordable assisted care, rather than just 20. But how would this be handled without the subsidy money from all those rich folks moving into the planned nice condo community?

Without that Watermark-sized condo project taking up most of the allocated land, there would be enough space to build a nice restaurant alongside the assisted living buildings. It could provide reasonable cost food, with ALL profits fed into a subsidy fund/foundation. It could use "interns" from the culinary program being proposed elsewhere at the waterfront by the Bahama Conch Community Land Trust.

Instead of reserving all that land for rich retirees who aren't even ready for assisted care, we could ALL enjoy the restaurant, and it would subsidize a REAL assisted care facility at a much greater scale than is currently planned.

I'm sure flaws will be pointed out in this alternative plan, but the point is: there ARE alternatives that can be considered. We don't have to lock out the average citizen from so much of the Truman Waterfront, and we can provide MORE affordable assisted care to the community.

Let's look beyond the FKACC's claims that there's "no other way", and come up with a plan that better meets the needs of the average citizens of our community.

David Lybrand
Key West

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