Key West City Manager Jim Scholl has been directed to investigate the feasibility of developing a sports field complex at Little Hamaca Park.
Last Stand has historically supported the conservation use of the park. One section is designated as White Crown Pigeon Park because it is frequented by this endangered species.
A nature trail with wooden boardwalk offers handicap access through uplands hardwood hammock, the last vestige remaining on the island, and views of tidal salt pond areas.
We’ve done some research, here are a few of the plant species identified by the Institute for Regional Conservation that have a protected status and have been conserved by the passive use of Little Hamaca Park.
Common Name – Scientific Name – Habit – State of FL Status
Bahama strongbark – Bourreria succulent – Tree – Endangered
Saltmarsh false foxglove – Agalinis maritima – Herb – Rare
Keys ageratum – Ageratum maritimum – Herb – Imperiled
Coastal ragweed – Ambrosia hispida – Herb – Rare
Key West threeawn – Aristida floridana – Herb – Critically Imperiled
Rough strongbark – Bourreria tomentosa – Tree – Endangered
Locustberry – Byrsonima lucida – Shrub – Rare
Satinleaf – Chrysophyllum oliviforme – Tree – Threatened
Maidenberry – Crossopetalum rhacoma – Shrub -Threatened
Saltgrass – Distichlis spicata – Herb – Rare
Blacktorch – Erithalis fruticose – Shrub – Threatened
Porter’s sandmat – Euphorbia porteriana – Herb – Endangered
Joewood – Jacquinia keyensis – Shrub – Threatened
Green sprangletop – Leptochloa dubia – Herb – Rare
Brittle thatch palm – Leucothrinax morrisii – Tree – Threatened
Wild dilly – Manilkara jaimiqui – Tree – Threatened
Florida mayten – Maytenus phyllanthoides – Shrub – Threatened
Keygrass – Monanthochloe littoralis – Herb – Rare
Simpson’s stopper – Myrcianthes fragrans – Tree – Threatened
Erect pricklypear – Opuntia stricta – Shrub – Threatened
Florida Keys blackbead – Pithecellobium keyense – Shrub – Threatened
Darlingplum – Reynosia septentrionalis – Tree – Threatened
Annual glasswort – Salicornia bigelovii – Herb – Rare
Bahama nightshade – Solanum bahamense – Shrub – Rare
Mullein nightshade – Solanum donianum – Shrub – Threatened
Yellow necklacepod – Sophora tomentosa – Shrub – Rare
Florida thatch palm – Thrinax radiate – Tree – Threatened
Sweet acacia – Vachellia farnesiana – Shrub – Rare
Curacao bush – Varronia bullata – Shrub – Endangered
These along with more common and stable plants support a variety of wildlife and migratory birds. We believe it’s important to sustain the passive nature of this often underutilized park so that future residents and visitors will be able to glimpse what the island looked like prior to anthropogenic changes.
The following was submitted to Mayor and Commissioners on 8/14/17
After reviewing the preliminary layout for the Hawk Missile Site Recreational Facility and impacts this would bring to Little Hamaca Park, Last Stand is recommending that you not develop the site according to this plan because:
1. Without removing mangroves and filling salt ponds, the land available is too small to support competition-size playing fields, and
2. There is significant environmental value at Little Hamaca Park and the area surrounding the Hawk Missile Site that would be degraded by more intensive use.
We strongly object to the turf playfield A that would require removal of mangroves
and native vegetation and disturbing tidal wetlands.
• Wetlands on this parcel have been restored extensively as mitigation for other projects within the city and therefore no fill or removal of mangroves and other native plants is allowed.
• At 150 foot width, the usable playing surface for competition would be smaller than at Poinciana School when you subtract area required for sidelines and safety, so it would not be the right size to attract visiting sports teams for tournaments.
• FAA has previously objected to lighted playing fields on this site that further restricts the value of fields at the Hawk Missile Site.
We also recommend that you reject the plans for the turf playfield B as it is too small for anything besides a practice area.
• Building a wider access road to the six parking spaces will also require removing vegetation and fill.
• Since the area drawn is the maximum space available without filling wetlands, a smaller playing surface would be required to allow for safety and fences on the perimeter.
The southwest fill area shows rest rooms and pickleball courts. Last Stand is recommending you carefully consider the cost and benefit to providing dedicated space for a currently popular sport that is easily played on tennis courts, with minimum modifications using portable nets.
• We believe that there is no water or sanitary sewer on this site, increasing the cost to install conventional rest rooms.
• We also note the budgeted cost of $500,000 for Smathers Beach restrooms where water and sewer already exist, so installing restrooms at this site will be expensive.
• Because of the sensitive habitat and tidal flow of water, any restroom facilities would need to be connected to the city’s central sewer system.
The conservation use that is designated for Little Hamaca Park in the Key West Future Land Use Map is significant and required by the terms of the Federal Land & Water Conservation grant that the city used to buy the land:
1. According to the US Fish and Wildlife Service, “Key West hammocks were completely obliterated with the exception of one tiny patch of Little Hamaca Park”, making it the last existing natural hammock within the city.
2. As identified by the Institute for Regional Conservation (IRC) in the “Floristic Inventory of the Florida Keys Database Online,” Little Hamaca Park is a Conservation Area with 159 plant taxa reported. Of those, eight are identified as endangered species and 15 are threatened species. These species are also found in the surrounding area and roadsides.
3. In addition, according to the National Museum of Natural History, Pupa incana is found at Little Hamaca Park, one of the few locations for this species found only in the Florida Keys.
The 1999 Federal Lands-to-Parks Program Conveyance application proposes “the Hawk Missile site will be maintained in its natural state.” It mentions future uses of canoe rentals, extension of the existing boardwalk and adapting the buildings to an interpretative center for military history, and marine and natural history presentations. Last Stand supports these uses as consistent with the goals of preserving Little Hamaca Park. We recommend that the city consider these as much more cost-effective alternatives to take advantage of this under-utilized public space.
We believe the conservation values of this last remaining natural hammock, the surrounding ponds and wetlands should be preserved, not stressed by more intensive use. We join with other environmental organizations in asking that you reject the proposed sports field development at the Hawk Missile Site.
At the 8-15-17 City Commission meeting, the concept to develop playing fields was rejected as too expensive. Jim Bouquet from city staff advised how difficult it will be to obtain permissions and permits from Department of Interior, South Florida Water Management District and FAA.
The commission directed staff to investigate the feasibility of kayak rental and/or storage. This use was a part of the 1999 application to obtain the parcel and should not have major permit problems.
The largest cost hurdle would be to bring water and sewer to the site, a 2,800 foot run. Any sports field use would require bathrooms and parking, so a minimum cost projected was $3 million.
We expect the kayak storage option will be much more cost effective and will contribute to the passive use of the site.
Commissioner Sam Kaufman is conducting a district meeting to discuss this topic, beginning at 5:30pm on Tuesday September 5th at Poinciana School Cafeteria, Kennedy Drive entrance.
A kayak center would be perfect! for this pastoral section of Key West where we have too much pavement and traffic.
A nice picnic pavilion for gatherings would be great. A nature center and history room would be perfect.
Sports fields cost too much precious space and are usually empty anyway.
Surprising to see how harrrrd it is to put in a kayak center. I don’t get it.