Members of an ad-hoc group calling themselves the Key West Commoners envision a multi-use public space with minimal development at the largely barren 33-acre Truman Waterfront property.

City officials are working with the Meisel Spottswood Marina Management Co., which wants to put a $32 million mega-yacht marina and "destination" park on a large chunk of the property.

However, Monroe County attorneys have already shot down the complicated proposed financing structure, which depends on tourism taxes to pay off bonds.

"We don't want to butt heads with them," Christine Russell, who helped get the Commoners started two weeks ago, said of Meisel.

"They can go ahead and pursue their funding. We just want to do something for the people." That includes, Russell said, simple things like bike racks, trash and recycling containers, portable restrooms and things of that nature.

The waterfront, at the end of Southard Street, now contains the Florida Keys Eco-Discovery Center and two maritime museums.

Russell said the Key West Commoners want a lot of input on what they envision for the waterfront, which is a community park.

"This is a park for the community and by the community," she said. "If you want a park, you're going to have to help us. We have ideas but we really look for the community for their input and shape this what they want it to become."

To offer your two cents, contact Commoners point man Richard Talmadge, owner of The Restaurant Store, at

He and Russell addressed members of the city's Truman Waterfront Advisory Board at a public session on Sept. 3.

"They presented their plan and to my ear it was well received by the Board," board member Al Sullivan said. "It would get something done."

Sullivan also said there were discussions last week about separating the proposed marina from any upland development.

The U.S. Navy deeded the 33-acre Truman Waterfront to the city eight years ago as part of the federal base-closure program.

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