Middle Keys Sewer System Proceeds

Middle Keys Sewer System Proceeds

Marathon City Staff has a plan for the Area 3 wastewater treatment plant on Grassy Key, but the property’s former owner and current neighbor does not like the plan.

In 2007, Marathon set the sewer plans in motion and has since made major headway on a project that seems to have other municipalities in the Keys reeling for answers. But Marathon’s road to comply with the state mandate has been anything but smooth.

This past Tuesday, Grassy Key RV park owner David Jackson appeared before the Marathon City Council speaking to the list of suggestions produced by city staff to mitigate the installation of a sewer treatment plant adjacent to the Jolly Roger Travel Park.

Councilman Pete Worthington did not agree with Jackson’s proposal to limit the property’s use.

“I was choking to spend $700,000 for what city spent on that property two years ago,” Worthington told Jackson. “For me to hear that we can only have a two-bay firehouse with only two people and two trucks…we bought it! We own the land. We’re not leasing it from the Jacksons.”

Jackson told the council that preliminary sketches of the sewage treatment facility did not match plans presented last May when the sale was pending.

“What is before you prepared by Roger (Hernstadt) is not at our request,” Jackson clarified. “This problem came to our attention in May 2010, and we immediately met with him. We were extremely alarmed. We’re in the hospitality business; we’re not stupid. There’s no way we’d consider selling property in front of our park to be used as a sewer plant. What actually happened is well documented.”

Jackson told council he was led by city staff to believe a small plant – similar to the facility currently serving Tranquility Bay and well disguised by lush landscaping – would be what the city intended to construct on Grassy Key.

But in November, a neighborhood group led by attorney Richard Warner protested the placement of a treatment plant in the western end of Grassy Key, and the council elected to construct one larger facility to service all of Area 3.

“We would be delighted to have three package plants there,” Jackson addressed the council. “In the hospitality business, we can’t afford to have something that screams sewer plant. RVs are mobile, and they will just keep driving. It is inconceivable the city would do this to one of their major hospitality businesses.”

Grassy Key resident John Walton reminded the council that when the location was first proposed, he was adamantly opposed the proximity to the Keys’ main artery for tourists.

“We’re going to put up a $400,000 wall to hide this plant?” Walton questioned. “We beat this location to death, and the main complaint is from the person who sold it to us. I don’t know what the answer is, but I don’t feel real sorry for him right now.”

Both Vice Mayor Dick Ramsay and Councilman Mike Cinque agreed that perhaps increasing the budget for landscaping to conceal the plant would be the best compromise.

“I am sorry we’re at this stage where there’s a problem after the fact,” Ramsay admitted.

“There were some things said that shouldn’t have been and some things misrepresented,” Cinque said, supporting Ramsay’s suggestion to increase the landscaping budget by an additional $115,000. He then motioned for the city manager to execute the contracts for work to begin in both service areas 3 (11th Street to 39th Street) and 7 (Grassy Key).

Knights Key
In service area 1 (Knight’s Key), the city agreed Tuesday night to meet with three law firms who responded to the city’s request of legal council in moving forward with eminent domain proceedings on Knight’s Key.

A previous development agreement with Earthmark included construction of the wastewater treatment plant, but Ramsay had previously voiced concern to engineer Ed Castle of Weiler Engineering, the company overseeing the wastewater and stormwater projects.

“I’ve repeatedly asked for designs of the facilities, and I’ve not received them,” Ramsay addressed Castle in early January.

Ramsay’s been continuously opposed to constructing a large facility to treat the wastewater of future development on Knight’s Key simply because that was what existed as part of a failed agreement with Earthmark.

Worthington asked to see plant designs built for both existing and future development to conduct a cost analysis.

“There will be [development] at some point, so the last thing I want to do is the have to go back and redo the work down the road,” Worthington said.

Hernstadt told The Marathon Weekly that a design for the plant would not be selected until eminent domain proceedings were under way and the city officially requests bid submissions for the project.

Vaca Cut
Ramsay was also vocal about complications with connections at both his and his neighbor’s homes on 122nd Street, included in the city’s Service Area 6.

“We had a lot of problems with contractor not connecting homeowner’s property to the pit, and my neighbor’s line was full of rocks when he went to connect to the vacuum pit,” Ramsay reported to the council earlier this month. “There have been a tremendous amount of dollars spent to correct obvious contractor problems.”

He then asked Castle whether or not each of those corrections performed by the city were being documented, to which he responded that Utilities Manager Zully Heymeyer is keeping separate invoices.

“According to our records, assuming that 50 percent of the city’s claims are paid by the bonding companies, the city is approximately $750,000 under budget for the entire project, including wastewater, stormwater and resurfacing the streets,” Heymeyer said in an email.

Olde Town
In Area 3, primarily Marathon’s Olde Town area, Fountain Engineering will contract with the city to complete work where Conquest walked off the job according to Hernstadt, who reported to the council that though staff had requested Conquest mark the work they had performed, the bonding company would not permit it.

“We will continue with Weiler to assess existing pipes, but we’re just bringing this back to you for clarification that Fountain Engineering will not be warranting work performed by Conquest,” Hernstadt clarified.

Worthington encouraged staff to go through the previous company’s work “with a fine toothed comb” to ensure the work on the project is not substandard.


Service Area No.


Service Area


Description


Estimated Construction Completion Date


Tent. Service Availability /Notices


Improved Properties In Process of Connecting to City Wastewater


Deadline

1

Knights Key Wastewater Plant

Not Awarded

1

Knights Key Collection System


Complete

TBA

TBA

2

Boot Key (island)

NA

NA

NA

3

11 St to 39 St Wastewater Plant

7/30/11

3

11th St to 39th St Collection System

11/16/11

TBA

TBA

4

39 St to 60 St including Sombrero (Wastewater Plant and Collection System)


Complete


Complete

45%

5/24/11

5

60 St to Vaca Cut Wastewater Plant Expansion

10/24/11

12/1/11

5

60 St to Vaca Cut Collection System

5/25/11

TBA

TBA

5

Little Venice (existing) Vaca Cut to 94 St to 117 St


Complete


Complete


100%


Complete

6

Vaca Cut to Cocoplum Drive (Wastewater Plant and Collection System)


Complete


Complete

50%

5/25/11

7

Grassy Key Collection System

10/18/11

TBA

TBA

7

Grassy Key Wastewater Plant

12/30/11

TBA

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