Florida Keys News - Key West Citizen
Wednesday, January 15, 2014
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Higgs Beach upgrades top BOCC agenda
County tackles master plan for the popular Atlantic park

The Monroe County Commission could take its first steps Thursday in moving Atlantic Boulevard at Higgs Beach, and will also vote on approving several upgrades to the popular beach park in Key West.

The commission will discuss the "implementation of the design and construction" of the "relocation of the road," the county's meeting agenda states.

"This would start the design process for the road," said County Commissioner Heather Carruthers, who represents Key West and has been active in the Higgs Beach redevelopment effort.

The county has been discussing the idea of moving the road so the beach and bathrooms would be on the same side of the road as Astro Park, a popular children's park.

The commission is scheduled to discuss moving Atlantic Boulevard and other upgrades at 10 a.m. Thursday when the board meets at the Harvey Government Center, 1200 Truman Ave., Key West.

The commission will also vote on placing new shade structures at the Higgs Beach beachfront children's park. The county recently had to remove a dozen Australian pine trees because they were dying and the big, heavy limbs have begun to fall from the trees.

The commission will also discuss requiring visitors to reserve and rent the two bandshells at the beach park.

It is not uncommon to see families using the bandshells for birthday parties and other occasions. However, there have been complaints of homeless and drunk people squatting inside the bandshells, which in turn scares away children and families.

The price to rent a bandshell would "cheap," and visitors would not have to rent them if they used them briefly, or had their pictures taken inside them, Carruthers said.

The county has been working on a master plan for Higgs Beach for several years. Plans call for multiuse fields, a bike and pedestrian trail, exercise course, and upgrades to the children's parks. The commission has set aside $1 million in sales tax money for Higgs Beach. The county has also secured hundreds of thousands of dollars in federal and state transportation grants and county Tourist Development Council funding for Higgs Beach upgrades.

tohara@keysnews.com

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