a map of a beach with a lot of buildings
A new swim zone off Port Antigua and White Marlin Beach shows a 25-foot-wide channel to allow private residents to access their docks. CONTRIBUTED

Islamorada council members welcomed a new interim village manager, considered several ordinances and delved into various discussions during the first meeting of 2024.

Inside the Founders Park Community Center on Jan. 9, council members unanimously approved an ordinance to amend a vessel exclusion zone and swim area located off Port Antigua and White Marlin Beach on Lower Matecumbe Key. Party boats anchoring near the shoreline in past years brought many issues to property owners  — everything from trash to drunken behavior by boaters. In February 2020, the council directed staff to engage with Port Antigua and White Marlin Beach residents. Out of those discussions came the creation of a swim area to keep boats away from the shallow depths. 

Peter Frezza, environmental resources manager, said there’s a 350-foot zone off White Marlin Beach that wasn’t included in the swim area, to give property owners access to use their boats from their docks. The new proposal shrinks that zone not included to a 25-foot wide channel, which gives private property owners the ability to access their docks. 

“The residents there are fully on board with this. I haven’t had anything but positive response from this. Law enforcement is on board,” Frezza said. 

Another ordinance unanimously approved by the council calls for a referendum on term limits at the November 2024 election. Last month, the council verbally agreed to send a question to the village ballot asking voters whether they support 8-year cumulative term limits. The proposal was originally retroactive, but the council changed direction and elected to make it prospective. 

Council members voted 4-1 on a referendum for a council pay increase to $1,500 a month at the November election. Language was added that council compensation would be subject to annual cost of living adjustment commensurate with any adjustment given to village staff that fiscal year. Council member Henry Rosenthal, the lone “no” vote, disagreed with the cost of living adjustment increase and requested it be eliminated from the referendum. His motion didn’t receive support, however. 

During the discussion portion of the meeting, Rosenthal asked Finance Director Maria Bassett, who was acting village manager, for an update on the Fills, a series of islands that connect Upper and Lower Matecumbe Keys. Bassett said the council suggested the village reach out to the Florida Department of Transportation and request the placing of boulders to replace the orange cones along the Fills. A.J. Engelmeyer reached out to FDOT and the initial response was “no.” Discussions are continuing, however.  

Mayor Buddy Pinder welcomed Kimberly Matthews, county senior director of strategic planning and libraries, to the interim village manager seat. She officially began her 60-day stint on Jan. 8. 

A resolution to approve an agreement with Attention Media was pulled off the agenda. According to Matthews, the agreement with Carlo Garcia for social media outreach services will go on a month-to-month basis. Garcia will report to the interim village manager until there’s a permanent village manager in place. 

Vice Mayor Sharon Mahoney brought forth the idea of purchasing Island Community Church to build a state-of-the-art library. She said the structure on the property could be demolished to allow for a new library. 

“I know Roman (Gastesi, the Monroe County administrator) is always open to the conversation. If the village is interested in having that conversation with the county, I’m sure Roman would welcome the conversation,” Matthews said.


Islamorada’s new trash hauler is seeking a commercial rate correction related to roll-off compactor services. 

Jan. 1 marked the official start for Island Disposal Company (IDC) as the village’s garbage pickup service. New, larger bins replaced Waste Management trash cans in the lead up to the transition. 

Waste Management serviced the village through Dec. 31, 2023, following the council’s decision last year to forgo a contract extension and send the service out to bid. The village initially entered into a contract with Advanced Disposal in 2014. Waste Management acquired Advanced Disposal in 2020. 

Last June, the council picked IDC as the next hauler for trash, recyclables and yard waste for village residents and businesses. A contract approved last July spans 10 years with an option to renew an additional five years after it expires Dec. 31, 2023. The village pays IDC roughly $492 a year per residential customer for waste collection. 

Brian Lindback, IDC owner, said he wanted to clarify commercial pricing for the non roll-off compactor rate of $49 per cubic yard and the roll-off compactor rate of $121.77 per cubic yard. A contract approved by the council in July detailed a garbage compactor rate of $49 per cubic yard, but didn’t include the non roll-off rate. 

Lindback said IDC will keep the $49 rate for small compactors of 2-6 cubic yards. 

“There’s a compactor that can be picked out by a regular truck that goes out and picks up commercial routes,” he said. 

Roll-off requires a different truck and driver to go out once a week, according to Lindback. 

“It’s a lot heavier and more to do, that’s why the rate is higher,” he said. 

Council verbally supported the rate correction following an explanation by Finance Director Maria Bassett and Lindback at a Jan. 9 meeting. A resolution is expected to come before the council next month to outline in the contract roll-off compactor services of $121.77 per cubic yard. 

Bassett said the new rate is consistent with proposals from other garbage companies, Waste Management and Atlantic Trash & Transfer, which vied for the garbage contract last year. Lindback said the new rate would affect three commercial customers.

Jim McCarthy
Jim McCarthy is one of the many who escaped the snow and frigid temperatures in Western New York. A former crime & court reporter and city editor for two Western New York newspapers, Jim has been honing his craft since he graduated from St. Bonaventure University in 2014. In his 5-plus years in the Keys, Jim has enjoyed connecting with the community. Jim is past president of the Key Largo Sunset Rotary Club. When he's not working, he's busy chasing his son, Lucas, around the house and enjoying time with family.