Florida Keys

Does this look like a Keys pier to you?

People stroll along the freshly paved White Street Pier, which the city calls a needed improvement while many locals say it was a mistake.
People stroll along the freshly paved White Street Pier, which the city calls a needed improvement while many locals say it was a mistake. gfilosa@keynoter.com

Key West’s White Street Pier offers a panoramic view of the ocean and is one of the island’s most popular spots to walk dogs, bike or stroll.

So when the city unveiled its repaving project this week, having topped the pier with fresh black asphalt along an unshaded path, plenty of people panned the $137,600 job, for which the city had a budget of $175,000.

City spokeswoman Alyson Crean said the pier, formerly a road but now off-limits to cars, always was asphalt and that the new coat will fade over time.

“Pavement always looks like that at first,” Crean said. “It’s all one level instead of having curbs on each side. It’s more bike and pedestrian friendly.”

Martha Hubbard, a pier regular who shoots photographs there, was out of town when the paving happened and returned to what she now calls the Black Street Pier.

“I saw it from the air,” Hubbard said. “How do they expect people to enjoy recreation out there? That was a waste of money.”

Mike Mongo, a Key West activist and former City Commission candidate, said he will fry an egg on the new asphalt this summer to show how inappropriate the paving choice was.

“Blacktop over concrete, why?” Mongo posted on Facebook. “Whoever decided to blacktop on White Street Pier must really REALLY like it hot.”

“It looks like a road,” said Nance Boylan, who rode her bicycle out to the pier to check out the fresh blacktop for herself. “Aesthetically, it’s not attractive, but I also think it’s not safe for dogs because they’re paws are going to get overheated. In the heat of summer, this sun by 8 a.m. is roasting.”

Key West city commissioners recently named the pier after developer Ed Knight, 99.

Mayor Craig Cates said Tuesday he hadn’t received any calls complaining about the repaving, which he said would fade over time. “Concrete would have cost us a fortune,” Cates said.

Gwen Filosa: @KeyWestGwen on Twitter

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