While I agree with some of the premises set forth in Ms. Cunningham’s recent Island Attitudes column, there are “perspectives” that should be addressed. Rob O’Neal’s photo Ms. Cunningham referred to is an example of distortion and optical illusion inadvertently created in photography when telephoto lenses are used. A 965-foot by 125-foot ship cannot physically “dwarf” a 2-mile by 4-mile island. Professional photographer O’Neal would likely agree that it’s all in the angle of perspective. And perspective often drives emotion rather than facts.
The SCS-promoted Resolution 22-073 effectively banned passenger ships from the historic Mallory Seaport. That resolution does allow passenger ships with 500 or fewer persons to berth at Mallory, but there are few such ships in existence, contrary to the misinformation spread by SCS throughout the referenda period. No ships have docked at the Navy Mole.
Ms. Cunningham said she learned much about cruise ships throughout the controversy but missed the memo that debunked claims about environmental damage caused by ships. Dr. Michael Crosby, distinguished corals expert and president of Mote Marine, testified before the commission that cruise ships do not cause coral death or reef decline. Our cruise ship piers are a marine wonderland, encrusted with hard and soft corals, sponges and tropical fish. Maintenance on those piers requires the resident stony corals be removed and transplanted to the reef. Perhaps we should rename the City Pier as the Mallory Cruiseport and Corals Nursery.
Ms. Cunningham implies that “home rule” was wrongfully superseded by the governor and legislature in Tallahassee. The flawed referenda were overturned because they were founded on now-exposed false premises, excluded Lower Keys voters and unjustly canceled long-established businesses without due process.
I commend Ms. Cunningham for the perspective that cruise tourists depart each evening after significant spending. No cars to clog the streets or parking facilities. No impacts on Key West infrastructure and public safety services. In fact, cruise passengers support island infrastructure by paying directly into the city treasury. No other tourists do so. This year, Pier B passengers will pay about $1.5 million dollars to the city — money that will fund essential services. These are important perspectives indeed.
Ms. Cunningham’s writing exhibits a basic journalistic error; she failed to encompass both sides of the issue by not engaging those in the maritime community who actually know a thing or two about cruise ship operations.