The state Department of Environmental Protection hired DRC Environmental Services, pictured here in February, to do marine debris removal for the county but DRC pulled out in mid-May after it said it under-bid the project. WEEKLY FILE PHOTO

Affordable housing and Keys-wide canal cleanup top the agenda ahead of Wednesday’s Board of County Commissioners meeting in Marathon. 

The county has received a grant award of $49.2 million from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and its Emergency Watershed Protection Program, which must be officially accepted by the BOCC. 

The grant is to remove Hurricane Irma debris from 103 of the most impacted canals in unincorporated Monroe, Marathon and Islamorada.

It’s divided into $35.2 million for unincorporated Monroe, $7.5 million for Marathon and $6.5 million for Islamorada. Monroe County will coordinate all work, which is expected to begin in August.

USDA-NRCS is providing $37.8 million in reimbursements, with a local match (non-federal funding) of $11.4 million. This $11.4 million is split among the county, Marathon and Islamorada based on construction projections, according to county spokeswoman Cammy Clark.

Commissioners will also discuss a $35 million contract with Miami-based Adventure Environmental Inc. to do the marine debris cleanup. 

“We’ve used them before for canal restoration projects,” Clark said.

Eight of the canals are in the Upper Keys, 23 in the Middle Keys and 72 in the Lower Keys.

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Marathon City Council members in June directed staff to ask Monroe County for 49 affordable housing units, permits which allow developers to build. 

Seeing as how the city has given away all of the units it had for housing projects and more can be requested from the county, the council asked for an extra 20 on top of 29 it needs for two projects by St. Columba Episcopla Church and IMBY Inc. 

On Wednesday’s agenda is an item for approval of 18 units for the St. Columba project and discussion of 11 units for IMBY. The 20 extra units are not on the agenda. 

The commission meets at the Marathon Government Center, MM 48 bayside, at 9 a.m.

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