Craig Cates | Continued come here. Te government should be involved in it also. We have the opportunity to restore a beautiful historic building on White Street. To me it’s a no brainer to jump right on it.
JA: You indicated you did have the support of the voters but obviously your colleagues on the commission are still not in the chord in the me- chanics of the acquisition. For example, Com- missioner Clayton Lopez suggested the citizens of Key West already paid for Glen Archer once it was built. I believe it was in the 1920s and Com- missioner Jimmy Weekly suggested a possible joint venture with the school district for the ren- ovation and use of Glen Archer as you indicated. What it appears the city commission doesn’t have is a unified plan. Has this hampered your per- sonal plans to acquire the school? CC: Yes, it definitely has. I want to work with all the commissioners to get this done. Te priority is to acquire the property for the citizens. So we negotiate this up. Te other commissioners have good ideas and that’s fine with me. Jimmy Weekly had a good idea. John Pagnet brought that idea forward awhile back, when I had this referendum, which is a good idea. I thought the citizens shouldown it since it’s our center of government, but I’m open to all options.
JA: You did have a tour of the grounds of Glen Archer Middle School just before the referendum. You had a large number of people that toured and certainly as a result of this tour, that 70 percent of voter referendum took place. Tat was pretty good. Who did the organiza- tion of that tour? CC: Richard Tallmadge. He’s the one who started the committee to spon- sor it and to promote it. So many people we talked to said that they hadn’t been inside the school because it was a school.
JA:Tere those who wonder if the condition of the school as it exists today, result of the school district de- ciding not to restore it, opting for a new Horrace O’Brian Complex, which is now being built. Do you still believe the school can function as an ef-
fective and efficient city hall we can all be proud of? CC: To me the building’s in excellent shape. Burke Bender had his engineering company go through the school and the worst they could find were some beams in the bottom were a little bit rotted and could be easily repaired.
JA: Having the school at a centrally located site, there at White Street, certainly has it’s advan- tages. CC: Having a city hall in a central location is
going to have many benefits. Access is just going to be much better. We are having a study now for downtown with the traffic and how much con- gestion we have and now we want to enlarge our city hall and have that downtown. To me that’s counterproductive. Why don’t we move our city hall out in the center of town and have less traffic downtown. Tat would be a big saving right there.
JA: What are the estimates for the restoration of Glen Archer? CC: $6-9 million was for the benders, and then
to completely redo it, gut it, replace everything was like $18 million. But that’s not what I would like to see done, and I don’t believe the citizens want to see done. We want it restored in there.
JA: I want to be clear in that Andy Griffiths, the former school board chair, did not want to sell that property. As a consequence, it appears the negotiations that are going on now with you and the school board is that you both are going to renovate it together and have that property leased. Is that correct? CC: Tat’s a possibility. My goal is to get the cit- izens of Key West what they want. I’m all for whatever deal we can make that is best for the citizens.
JA:What are some of the things you are going to do differently this year in order to insure that you are successful in acquiring the property for the city hall? CC: I’m going to be more patient and not get so excited when things you think are quite obvious don’t go that direction. And I’ll try and figure out why they didn’t go that way and work with the other commissioners. It’s hard with seven. We have a lot of different opinions.
JA: Let’s say a new mayor comes in and this project is still ongoing, what advice and recommendations would you give? CC: I would hope they would continue in this direction and would see that the citizens want this project. Tey want to preserve history and didn’t want to spend all that money downtown and congest that area.
JA: Where is the money to fund this renovation of Glen Archer Middle School? CC: Tey already have the money in ac- counts. I don’t know the exact figures, but they have been saving this money for six, seven years. Te money has been coming out of our capital improvement funds, so we’ve been putting alot of projects off.
JA: Mr. Mayor, I wish you all the luck n
A N I N T E R V I E W W I T H Key West Mayor Craig Cates
4 KONK Life
in continuing with your project in the acquisi- tion of Glen Archer.
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