City of Marathon Honored with PISCES Award

The City of Marathon was honored during their regular meeting Tuesday night with the 2008 PISCES Award from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Gus Rios with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection presented Mayor Mike Cinque with a plaque recognizing the city’s efforts in implementing a comprehensive approach to wastewater treatment.

“The City of Marathon is the only municipality in the state of Florida to receive this award, and you should be recognized for that achievement” Rios told the council.

In Region 4, in which the state of Florida is included, the EPA recognized only three other municipalities – Gainesville, Ga., Brunswick County, N.C. and Lexington County, S.C. The PISCES, or Performance and Innovation in the SRF Creating Environmental Success, is presented to local governments whose projects best represent the Clean Water State Revolving Fund’s commitment to innovative and sustainable water quality financing.

In other business:

The city’s finance director, Peter Rosasco, reported that two local banks have developed loan programs to assist Marathon businesses and residents in financing their lateral sewer connection costs. First State Bank Loan Officer Ben Daniels said his organization’s loan program has been utilized in the Upper and Lower Keys with great success and that FSB would be offering unsecured loans and loan approvals within 48 hours. Rosasco reported TIB Bank would also be offering similar loan programs. He said he is currently working with other banks in addition to First State and TIB that would allow residents to pay for their hook ups at a rate of about $100 per month.

In conjunction with the recognition from the EPA, the council proclaimed February to be Water Quality Awareness Month for the City of Marathon. The proclamation listed several statements recognizing a need to raise awareness about water quality, two of which included the facts that the Florida Keys support the only living barrier coral reef in the continental United States and the sustainability of this ecosystem, including its coral and fish populations, depends upon water of the highest quality; and the tourist- and fishing-based economy of Marathon depends upon a sustainable marine ecosystem with clean, clear water.

Council members adopted a resolution to create a US 1 Corridor Design Review Task Force. Each council member nominated a community member to sit on the task force and review the Land Development Regulations, or LDRs, currently in place. “This task force is designed to get the public involved and keep the community the way the citizens wish is to be. There is no conspiracy to do anything here,” Cinque assured. The task force will consist of Mike Puto, Frank Greenman, Dan Gallagher, John “Pops” Stiglitz and Jason Koler.

An ordinance defining the geographic boundaries for taxing units regarding Trauma Star funding was deferred until the March 31 council meeting. Councilman Dick Ramsay said he wanted to assure everyone that the city council is in support of Trauma Star, but the county has yet to issue their support for the taxing unit. “The county seems to be the party here who is unsure of what they’re doing,” Ramsay said. “We need to know what we’re supporting here,” Cinque echoed.

City Attorney Jimmy Morales reported that overall, the City of Marathon is “nicely under budget based on First Quarter reports.”

City Planning Director George Garrett reported that Land Steward Patty Childress is making strides in contacting community members interested in participating in the Neighborhood Improvement Program.

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