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County struggles with Bayshore Manor, homeless shelter issue – Citizen

October 20, 2017

The idea of converting Bayshore Manor into an overnight homeless shelter received a lukewarm reception at Wednesday’s Monroe County Commission meeting but County Mayor George Neugent will bring back the idea back next month.

Neugent, Key West Mayor Craig Cates and County Administrator Roman Gastesi met last week to discuss possible locations for KOTS (Keys Overnight Shelter).

The three discussed moving the 16 Bayshore Manor residents and 10 respite care beds to the new senior assisted living facility the city is building at Poinciana Plaza, which will be open within the next six to eight months. Bayshore would then serve as the homeless shelter.

However, county commissioners Sylvia Murphy, Heather Carruthers and Danny Kolhage did not embrace the idea on Wednesday.

The County Commission voted last month to give the city a year to move KOTS from its current location on county-owned property next to the sheriff’s headquarters and jail. Cates wants KOTS to stay there, despite the city’s promise to move it several years ago. Sheriff Rick Ramsay plans to build worker housing for his employees there.

The disagreement sparked the informal meeting between city and county leaders. Neugent reminded his fellow commissioners to play nice with the city because the property is within city limits and the city will ultimately have to approve Ramsay’s project and issue the building permits.

Commissioner Kolhage responded “that those two should have nothing to do with each other.”

Nuegent told The Citizen Thursday morning that he would rather see Kolhage and Carruthers take the lead on this issue, as they represent Key West. However, he said he would put the item back on the November meeting agenda if they don’t.

“This is something we have to deal with,” Neugent said. “If not, we are going to be back where we were several years ago with the homeless roaming the streets because there is no place for them to go.”