Florida Keys News
Tuesday, April 15, 2014
Doctor wants to build marina in New Town

City planners recommend the approval of a Key West doctor's plans to build a marina with 79 slips behind his property at 2407 N. Roosevelt Blvd.

Dr. Richard Walker owns 4.6 acres that include bay bottom and mangroves, where he wants to build a marina off a stretch of New Town behind the Lions Club building and the Heron office suites.

"The proposed dockage is on property that consists of bay bottom and mangrove only," says a report by the city's planning department.

Planners gave their blessing to the project, with several conditions such as Walker must provide sewage pump-out for all boats and the marina must maintain a "Clean Marina Designation."

Walker, who first proposed the marina last June, is on the planning board's agenda for its 6 p.m. Thursday meeting at Old City Hall, 510 Greene St.

City commissioners, however, have the final say on the major development project, and in this case, state and federal permits are needed.

The project would take two years to build, said private planner Owen Trepanier, whose firm has signed on to represent Walker.

Walker has tangled with the city over the property before. He recently agreed to pay $34,550 in code enforcement fines to settle a three-year-old dispute over the waterfront property he bought from the city in 1995.

The city initially wanted Walker to pay $103,650 in code fines that had stacked up since 2011, when Walker built structures on existing docks without proper city permits.

Walker denied any wrongdoing.

Several nearby residents have expressed fears that the marina will disrupt the neighborhood.

Walker has the right to pursue the marina, Tom Ratcliffe told the city in a recent letter, but he chose to live on Gulfside Drive in 2008 because of the quiet setting and sunset views.

"My primary concern is that there will be a significant increase in the noise level so that the primary reason I chose to live where I live no longer exists," Ratcliffe said.

Walker's property was once home to the Flipper Sea School, whose crumbling piers were destroyed during Hurricane Wilma.

One couple who bought a home near Walker's property in 2013 wants Walker to reduce the number of slips.

"While we would prefer that no development take place at the former Flipper Sea School we understand that is unlikely," wrote John and Kathleen Zuiderveen to the city.

gfilosa@keysnews.com

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