In the city’s 10-year history, a female mayor has never headed Marathon’s council.
In the first meeting since voters turned out to fill two seats on the dais, council woman Ginger Snead, now heading into the second year of her first term, was chosen by her fellow councilmen to serve as mayor of the city.
“I thank everyone for their confidence in me to allow me to be mayor,” she offered at the conclusion of the meeting.
After turning over the mayor’s seat to Snead, former mayor Mike Cinque nominated Councilman Dick Ramsay for the vice mayor position. He kindly declined, adding that he is already involved in city business “24/7.”
“I got into this job with the idea in mind that it was going to be duck soup,” he admitted, and instead nominated Cinque for the vice mayor seat.
Only minutes after being sworn into his first term in political office, Richard Keating was nominated for the vice mayor position by Councilman Pete Worthington. During closing comments of the meeting, Keating apologized for “being so quiet tonight” but pledged to “get into the swing of things soon.”
The vote ultimately went in Cinque’s favor, and he will now serve as vice mayor.
The mayor holds no more authority than any other council members but does lead the public meetings and is always the last member to vote.
In other news:
• Community Services Director Susie Thomas updated the council on the Florida Department of Transportation’s plans to perform maintenance work along the Marathon section of U.S. 1, particularly at the intersection of Aviation Blvd. and the main highway. As the council still continues their discussions to lobby the state for a traffic signal to alleviate congestion at the intersection, Thomas said if the council wished for FDOT to remove some of the median in hopes of moving the traffic signal project forward, they must let FDOT know as soon as possible so the future plans could be submitted.
She had to clarify several times that the possible construction of a left and right turn lane off of Aviation would carry a $400,000 cost to the city.
“FDOT would not participate in that project to install a light,” Thomas clarified, as U.S. 1 is a state-owned road and Aviation is a city road. A handful of independent traffic studies at the intersection have led FDOT to believe the number of vehicles using that intersection does not call for a light.
• After months of discussion and back and forth between the county, Marathon city council unanimously accepted Monroe County’s local preference ordinance as applicable within the city limits.
Florida Keys Contractors Association President Chris Gratton urged the council to accept the ordinance, not only because his organization is 150 county-wide members strong, but also because, “We could show the county we’re working with them as one big organization.”
Attorney Frank Greenman urged the council that expanding their local preference countywide would do no damage to local businesses, but suggested that rejecting the offer could have “unintended consequences further down the road.”
“Marathon has more apartments, duplexes and mobile homes than any other island in the Keys,” Greenman added. “We are the place where the working people live as it has always been.”
The council also unanimously voted to write letters to the county and other municipalities to unify all the governing bodies under a single local preference.
• The council also discussed the outstanding development agreements currently on file with the city. Planner George Garrett told the council all of the agreements are current, but their conditional use agreements for their respective properties may not be met due to the state of the economy. Garrett suggested taking four of the outstanding agreements – Key Colony Bay Resort, also commonly known as the Peoples Corporation; Sea Dell Motel; Faro Blanco; and Banana Bay – and contacting the owners and/or investors to discuss each case on an individual basis.
Worthington suggested code enforcement “become more active with these properties,” and Ramsay quickly contested that city staff “is already out there doing what they can.”
“If you get in touch with Peebles Corporation and get them on the phone, if would be an act of God,” Ramsay admitted. “This is why I’m suggesting we take them one at a time.”
• Christina Bass of BAT Construction appeared before the council to contest non-payment from prime contractor, Globetec, of work performed on the city’s sewer project by her company as a sub-contractor.
“You are obligated to pay subs when the prime contractor fails to do so,” Bass implored. “We only ask you to honor that contract and pay us for the work that’s been performed.”
Worthington suggested to the council that they had before them a local company that is owed “about a half a million dollars” and a company “that’s liened our property, be it legal or not. We need to do whatever’s in our power to get this cleaned up.”
Cinque motioned that the city’s attorney, John Herrin, and representatives from his firm sit down in a meeting with legal counsel from Globetec and BAT Construction to resolve the issue.
• The city approved the temporary placement of trench dirt collected from the sewer project at San Pablo Catholic Church.
Resident Rupert Staudner, who lives across the street from the open field where the dirt will be placed, spoke against the proposed site, adding that the mountain of dirt would be an eyesore.
In exchange for storage of the dirt on the field, San Pablo will receive their lateral connection free of charge.
Jesse Van Houten swore Mike Cinque into his next term as councilman.
Laurel Keating swore her husband, Richard, into his inaugural term in political office.
After being unanimously voted in as mayor, Ginger Snead traded seats with former mayor Mike Cinque as head of the Marathon City Council.
The newly seated council recognized mentors from the Take Stock in Children program and declared Nov. 16-20 Take Stock in Children Week to celebrate the program’s 10 years in existence.