If the Marathon City Council approves a resolution containing contract terms to begin planting trees in the median along US 1 and along the bike path between the airport and 107th Street, the Arazoza Bros. landscaping company, who recently completed complimentary landscaping along Sombrero Beach Road would begin work as early as next month.

Marathon and the Keys may be in the midst of the 2011 tourist season, but one community leader is hoping visitors be able to enjoy a little more shade before they leave for the summer.

Community Image Advisory Board (CIAB) chairman Peter Chapman has repeatedly joked with the Marathon City Council that his group will have trees planted in the US 1 median and along the bike path fronting the Marathon airport before his first born son is in college.

If the council approves the resolution including the work contract Tuesday night at their regularly scheduled meeting, planting may begin before his son’s second birthday!*

Three years ago, the beautification advisory board – made up of local business leaders and residents – began conceptualizing plans for landscaping projects along Marathon’s main artery.

City biologist Patti Childress explained that a design variation and permit was applied for with Florida Department of Transportation for plantings within the medians between Aviation Blvd. and 107th Street. 

Initial plans for landscaping along the bike path started at the entrance of the airport to 107th Street. The design evolved to include the entire north side area between Aviation Blvd to 107th Street. The project incorporates existing landscaping into beds with additional plantings including Royal Poinciana, Black ironwood, Wild Tamarind and Florida thatch palms. 

The variation was approved, and FDOT issues a permit to plant a variety of palm trees, including Hurricane, Chinese fan, Florida thatch and Montgomery palms, within the medians. 

Chapman estimated, upon the council’s approval of the contract, that the job would come with a price tag of between $36,000 to $37,000. 

“We’d really like to see a line item in the budget for beautification,” he added.

In partnership with the Greater Marathon Chamber of Commerce, the CIAB is currently asking residents, businesses and community leaders to complete a brief online survey that proposes a property tax increase of .10 mils that would generate $192,500 per year to fund beautification projects initiated by the city of Marathon.

Under that structure, for example, a property with a taxable value of $250,000 would be assessed an additional $25 per year.

“Imagine what nearly $200,000 a year for the next 10 years could do for this community in terms of beautification?” Chapman, who’s also a small business and property owner, pondered.

Chamber CEO Daniel Samess recently emailed the organization’s membership with a link to the online survey.

“The long-term vitality of our local economy depends on Marathon’s ability to continue to attract visitors and residents,” he noted in an email. “Research shows that business revenues and property values increase when an area looks attractive. It is imperative that we begin to develop and implement a plan immediately to be ready as the economy rebounds.”

In order to get the ball rolling on a solid plan for the future, the Chamber drafted a brief online survey to begin implementing some more concrete ideas.

Childress concluded that the project will proceed in two phases upon approval by the council; Phase 1 will include the plantings in the highway median, and Phase 2 will include the airport frontage from the airport back east to 107th Street.

The Resolution to approve the contract is on the agenda for the City Council meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 22. Assuming the resolution passes, the city may be able to issue a Notice to Proceed by as early as mid March, 2011.

Make your voice heard! The Greater Marathon Chamber of Commerce online survey also has additional space for comments or suggestion. Check it out at www.surveymonkey.com/s/NGRKD9G.


* Editor’s Note: Jack Chapman will turn two on July 3.

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