November 9, 2021
During the November 5th City Commission meeting, Commissioner Jimmy Weekley was honored for his role in ensuring the island’s historic waterfront remains accessible to the community and to our visitors.
“Commissioner Weekley’s dedication while serving as the Mayor of the City of Key West,” reads the proclamation, “was instrumental in the City acquiring the Key West Bight Marina now known as the Key West Historic Seaport and Harbor from the Singleton family.”
Twenty-nine years ago, the citizens of Key West approved a referendum to go out to bond the funding to buy what is now the Historic Seaport. That bond was paid off in 2017.
“I remember the whole process,” said Commissioner Weekley. He recalled walking into a planning board meeting and seeing a developer’s proposal to buy the large waterfront parcel and build condos on it.
“I went immediately to our legal department and asked how can we stop this,” he said. “We need to protect our waterfront, our heritage -- the shrimping industry, the sponging industry, everything that went on there. We need to ensure that future generations enjoy what we did. The citizens need public access to the water.”
Commissioner Weekley pulled together an ad hoc committee to find a way to arrange for funding before a private developer bought the waterfront.
“I brought in the people who I thought would be opposed to the City owning land,” he said. “But they were the ones who worked the hardest to make it happen.”
The group -- Robert Feldman, Rand Wentworth, John Parks, Jr., Debbie Horan, Tony Falcone, Daniel Lee, Susan Olsen, Ed Swift, Sam Chapin, and Harry Wooley – and Commissioner Weekley were able to get the Trust for Public Lands to purchase the property from the Singleton family and hold it until the community could vote on the bond proposal. The ballot measure passed overwhelmingly
“If it wasn’t for Jimmy doing this,” said Ed Swift, owner of Historic Tours of America and a member of that long-ago committee, “Key West would have lost one of the major sources of revenue for this city, and the public would have lost access.”
Today, the Historic Seaport is a thriving waterfront with a marina, restaurants, shops, and bars. The boardwalk and adjacent piers offer easy access for private boaters as well as charters.
In the photo: Commissioners Mary Lou Hoover and Gregory Davila, Mayor Teri Johnston, Tony Falcone, Commissioner Jimmy Weekley, Ed Swift, John Parks, Vice Mayor Sam Kaufman, and Commissioners Clayton Lopez and Billy Wardlow.