The following letter was sent to the Keynoter and Upper Keys Reporter.
Fred Hawkins in a letter to the editor of the March 11 Keynoter took a swipe at Duck Key while praising Founders Park. Hawkins wrote, "There is little question that they (Islamorada Councilmen) saved that precious space from eventually becoming another Duck Key."
I glad Fred Hawkins of Tavernier takes pride in Founders Park. I just wish he had not denigrated Duck Key in his effort to applaud Founders Park as an asset of the Islamorada community.
We have no Founders' Park, but our small island does have a community center built by member residents which provides recreational swimming, tennis, dining and dancing, amusement, and a place for get togethers and meetings.
Since Duck Key is a small island of only 330 acres, unlike Islamorada we have a lot less of everything. We do have a premiere resort, a real estate office, a bank, and some commercial offices. We lack a gas station and many other places of commercial convenience that one notices bordering on the Overseas Highway. We have less commercial stuff, and gladly less traffic.
There is a lot more to Duck Key than one sees passing by on US 1. Yes, the commercially zoned nine hole golf course land was used for resort expansion, but our island retains much open space in the form of miles of interior canals, and surrounding harbor and ocean waters.
Duck Key is a close-knit community joined together by social ties and common interests. Our residents takes pride in the community like the folks of Islamorada do. We proudly point to the island's landscaped stone entranceway, its marvelous arched bridges with their balusters and urns, and Duck Key's original buildings with their West Indian architecture. The island canals are free flowing and cleansed with the change of tides. Additionally the island's homes are protected from storms by a rock revetment wall. Duck Key's residents love their island.
Background on Frank Hawkins:
Recently Frank Hawkins, incumbent FKEC Board of Directors Treasurer was re-elected for another three-year term on FKEC's Board of Directors representing District 2, Tavernier. Hawkins was first elected to the board in 1997.
Fred Hawkins' letter below.
Founders Park is an Islamorada jewel
Posted - Wednesday, March 11, 2009
EDITOR: We've just passed the 10th anniversary of the actions taken by members of the original Islamorada Village Council to acquire the Coulter property and create Founders Park.
Then-Mayor Ron Levy and fellow council members Frank Kulisky, George Geisler, Kym Collins and Jim Mooney were true visionaries in making the $9 million purchase of 40 acres and marina on Florida Bay. There is little question that they saved that precious space from eventually becoming another Duck Key.
The property was bought with a competitive bid loan secured at near 3 percent, of which the principal and interest payments are paid by sales tax funds that prior to incorporation had been going to Key West and Monroe County.
The initial improvements were also paid off with money that previously went to the county along with the sale of some transfer development rights.
The park is a wonderful success. While there have been predictable differences about priorities and allocations, the bottom line is the park has increased our quality of life, increased property values, brought us national recognition and preserved needed open public space for many kinds of events, including the highly successful Upper Keys Rotary Nautical Flea Market, which has raised approximately $1 million over the past decade or so that has gone back into our community, primarily into our schools.
There are still differences about the use of the park. For instance, I am not convinced that putting up an administration and fire station building is the best use of scarce park space. Nevertheless, it's worth pausing for a moment to thank the original council members for their foresight in creating this incredibly valuable asset for our community.