Council acts on Fills, Anne’s Beach opens

VILLAGE HIGHLIGHTS

It was a pretty active year for the village of Islamorada. On the dais, council considered and acted on various quality-of-life issues facing residents. Here are some of the 2019 highlights. 

 

AFFORDABLE HOUSING

In April, Islamorada council said “yes” to the second reading of an ordinance adding language to its comprehensive plan and land development regulations to allow for the allocation of up to 300 new, affordable housing units. At the time, the village had 36 affordable housing allocations available until 2023. If the village gets the 300 units from the state, planning director Ty Harris said the 36 allocations could become “extremely valuable” for use for deed-restricted affordable housing.

 

A VISIT TO THE CAPITOL

Islamorada officials paid a visit to the nation’s capital on May 9 to speak with senators, representatives and the Army Corps of Engineers to discuss water quality, lighthouses and FEMA reimbursement. Last year, the Keys received $4 million from the Corps for water quality improvement, which supports Keys municipalities like Islamorada. Officials were seeking another $1 million. The visit also enlightened representatives in Washington regarding the state of lighthouses in the Keys, as well as FEMA reimbursement. 

 

Council acts on Fills, Anne’s Beach opens - A sign on the side of a road - Traffic sign
Speed signs of 45 mph are installed on Tea Table Key. JIM McCARTHY/Keys Weekly

CALMING THE SITUATION 

Pressure put on by the village, Monroe County Sheriff’s Office and residents over the Fills drew action from the Department of Transportation just before the July 4 holiday. With overcrowding and trashing issues percolating, FDOT immediately allowed the village to control the amount of parking and areas of access on state-owned property at the Fills. Along with parking restrictions, village staff was on hand to control parking during weekends and busy holidays. The speed limit was also changed to 45 mph thanks to Sheriff Rick Ramsay. 

 

Council acts on Fills, Anne’s Beach opens - A truck cake sitting on top of a car - Florida Keys
A Frebee vehicle drives passengers down Old Highway. JIM McCARTHY/Keys Weekly

RIDE SERVICE EXPANDING

Expansion of Freebee’s ride-sharing service to all of Islamorada is on its way. The electric vehicle ridesharing service has been running on Upper Matecumbe Key since November 2018. With expansion of the program, vans will provide service 70 hours a week beginning in the New Year.

 

Council acts on Fills, Anne’s Beach opens - A group of people flying a kite in front of a crowd - Tensile structure
The local community comes out for the 4th of July celebration at Founders Park, enjoying live entertainment at the amphitheater with its new canopy. JIM McCARTHY/Keys Weekly

CANOPY GETS INSTALLED

A project to install a new canopy at Founders Park amphitheater started June 24 and was complete June 28. It was the final Hurricane Irma recovery project at the park. And it was finished just in time for the 4th of July celebration. The project, which cost $118,806, was done by Tensile Structure Systems Inc., a Baltimore company specializing in tensile structures. JIM McCARTHY/Keys Weekly

 

Council acts on Fills, Anne’s Beach opens - A group of people standing in front of a crowd posing for the camera - Social group
Deb Gillis cuts the ribbon on a bright, sunny day to officially reopen Anne’s Beach on Lower Matecumbe. JIM McCARTHY/Keys Weekly

ANNE’S BACK! 

Joined by community members and village officials, then-mayor Deb Gillis cut the ribbon to mark the official reopening of Anne’s Beach, located at MM 73.5, Oceanside on Aug. 23. With 1,300 feet of new boardwalk, six pavilions, new parking lots and a restroom facility on the north end, the project came in at $1.6 million. Island Villa Construction and Teak Esslinger were the ones that put the facility back together in a more resilient state. JIM McCARTHY/Keys Weekly 

 

FERTILIZER STANDARDS

Islamorada Village council members were unanimous in their decision to approve an ordinance to amend land development regulations related to fertilizer application standards during the Sept. 19 meeting. The ordinance restricts the application of fertilizer containing nitrogen and phosphorus during the summer/rainy months of June to September annually. Fertilizer can’t be applied within 15 feet of any canal, shoreline or wetland. Application is also prohibited during major storms and floods. In addition, grass clippings and vegetation debris can’t be washed, swept or blown into storm drains, ditches, roads or canals. Any material accidentally deposited would need to be removed immediately to the maximum extent practicable. 

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