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Posted on: January 22, 2021


East Martello Field in preparation for grading, field is empty.

Monroe County is completing extensive grading, drainage, fencing, and lighting and electrical upgrades to the East Martello Field in Key West. The field is a popular event field for larger community events like Zombie Bike Ride, outdoor concerts, and annual summer children’s educational programming from Key West Art and Historical Society (KWAHS). The improvements are funded through a Tourist Development Council capital improvement grant and are expected to be completed in four to six months. 

Many events were postponed or canceled in the past due to standing water on the field. The higher elevation of the field and the installation of a perimeter exfiltration drainage system will help with these issues in the future. The removal of standing water will also properly protect Fort East Martello’s foundation. 

“This project will not only rejuvenate the area visually, but it will now have the infrastructure to support community events like concerts, art in the park events, maybe even a Royal Poinciana Festival at some point,” said Monroe County Project Management Director Cary Knight. “This field is the first and last thing someone sees when they fly in and out of Key West and the upgrades will complement and protect Fort East Martello for generations to come.”

Monroe County was in discussions with KWAHS during the design phase and it was decided by both entities that the existing foliage was unlikely to survive the grading and trenching process. KWAHS is partnering with Save a Tree Foundation to launch a fundraising effort to replant the field with biodiverse, salt-tolerant native plants and trees, including royal poincianas.

“This project reclaims the former East Martello Park, dedicated in 1983, that was initially proposed, funded, and developed by Margo Golan and the McKee family,” said Michael Gieda, Executive Director of the KWAHS. “By dealing with sea-level rise and flooding issues, KWAHS will be in a better position to host more community events moving forward.”