BOCC Listens to Input, But Remains Firm

Councilman Dick Ramsay has been persistent in his efforts as the city’s airport liaison to have a seat at the table when any decisions are made regarding the Marathon Airport.

In April, the city submitted a letter to the County Commission requesting control over decisions made regarding planning and zoning at the airport, and the County vehemently opposed the proposal.

An interlocal agreement was then drafted to suggest the county should submit any plans for changes to the runway and facilities to the City of Marathon for their review and approval.
County legal staff discouraged entering into the proposed ILA citing issues from both the growth management and general aviation standpoints that would “be a roadmap to much larger problems,” according to County Attorney Suzanne Hutton.

Mayor George Neugent, who put the discussion item on the agenda, confirmed that the legal opposition was only an opinion and not a formal staff recommendation.

“This is not to say we might not be able to find something we can accept unless airport managers say we don’t want to pursue this,” Neugent offered.

Airports Director Peter Horton told the BOCC that his staff had no problem sitting down with the city to discuss their potential involvement, but after a mid-April request from the city was denied by the County, they needed another plan for direction.

“How would you like us to proceed as far as bringing them into the process,” Horton asked.
Assistant County Attorney Pedro Mercado said that entering into a formal agreement with the City of Marathon could potentially jeopardize any grant funding opportunities with the Federal Aviation Administration.

“My concern is adding another level of bureaucracy now,” Mercado said, adding that the city representatives could be invited to Florida Keys Marathon Airport Manager Reggie Paros’ regular monthly meetings as a forum for input on airport projects.

Commissioner Heather Carruthers attempted to clear the air and motioned a formal vote on the ILA, but Ramsay quickly said he had no intentions of bringing the item up for a vote.
Attorney John Herrin confirmed that the City of Marathon had no intention of jeopardizing grant opportunities with the FAA.

After her motion to formally deny the proposed interlocal agreement was unanimously approved, Carruthers suggested the commission ask staff to write a simple procedural memo that included a list of people in Marathon with whom Marathon airport issues would be evaluated.

Mercado asked the commission what should be included in the memo, and Neugent asked them to “exclude whatever we can.”

Ramsay told The Weekly Newspapers he was satisfied with the BOCC actions. “Anytime people are talking, that’s progress,” he said. “We’ve not been shut down. If the dialogue closes, then its time for the city to fish or cut bait.”

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