According to Monroe County Sheriff Office’s Capt. Gene Thompson, the bus stop on Sombrero Beach Road has been the subject of 800 calls in the last year. The calls and subsequent police visits have resulted in charges such as littering, public intoxication, drug dealing, fights, loitering, and sleeping on the benches.he eyesore directly across the street from the Publix main exit will be removed. The bus stop has been the repeated scene of many crimes, misconduct and other unsightly doings. The City of Marathon is negotiating with the state Department of Transportation and the bus companies to move the pick up/drop off locations to the oceanside merge lane on U.S. 1 in between Tom Thumb and McDonalds for northbound traffic and gulfside on U.S. 1 in between Crane Point Hammock and the Marathon Garden Club for southbound traffic.
“I’m the one that made 400 of those 800 calls,” said J.J. Starr, a bartender at the Brass Monkey Lounge directly behind the bus stop, to laughter at the recent Marathon City Council meeting. Then she unleashed a stream of frustration: “It’s disgraceful, not entertaining, unbelievable … a cesspool and disgraceful spot.”
She said on a recent morning she witnessed two men sleeping on bus stop benches. One, she said, she recognized as having been recently removed by ambulance.
“He’s the guy that always wants to borrow money for shoes and buys beer with it,” she said. “Please move the bus stop.”
Even a pair of regular bus stop dwellers admit there are problems with the current site.
“There have been some issues,” says Robert Pavoni. “There have been fights, people drinking vodka” and other acts of vagrancy like public defecation.
Pavoni and his buddy, Kenny Griffy claim they clean up garbage on regular basis and that when the stop is moved to U.S. 1 garbage will end up blowing all over the highway.
To ensure the same problem is not recreated in a different spot, the new bus stops will have neither benches nor shade.
“Other bus stops in the Keys have a sign and a pole and that’s it. I’ve seen people out there with umbrellas,” said Capt. Thompson. “But those bus stops are clean. There’s no littering and no disturbances. I think this will make it safer, reduce the amount of officer time spent on bus stop complaints and it will add to the beautification and clean up the area.”
In other Marathon
• The City of Marathon approved changes to its ordinances and land development regulations making it possible for Discount Rock & Sand to operate as a construction and demolition debris waste transfer station as a conditional use for the property on Aviation Boulevard.
• Although both city staff and Councilman Mark Senmartin both produced financial data on what it would cost to have an in-house finance department, the council elected not to put out a request for proposals, or even schedule when they might do so. The majority of the council, however, expressed support of the service rendered to date as well as an interest in renegotiating the cost of the contract with the Bishop and Rosasco accounting firm.
“Some terrific things have come out of this conversation,” said Mayor Dick Ramsay. “[Peter Rosasco] has indicated to two of our council members that he could renegotiate and that he’s happy with the city and enjoys working with the city and we’re happy with him.”
Four of the councilmembers said it would be ill advised to change accounting firms at the beginning of this summer’s budget season.
The former financial director for the city, Rosasco, recently stepped down after questions over his impartiality regarding his dual role as a developer within the city limits. He appointed Jennifer Johnson in his stead to remove himself from day-to-day workings of city hall and questions of improper access to insider information.