Gerard Roussin is ready to take on the ‘faster pace’ of Marathon’s building department. ALEX RICKERT/Keys Weekly

The city of Marathon’s building department has a new face at the helm with the hiring of Building Official Gerard Roussin. Roussin replaces Noe Martinez, who served in the position for Marathon since 2020.

Originally from Vermont, Roussin became a general contractor and moved to the Keys in 1984 before launching his own company, Caribbean Glass and Shutters, 10 years later. He and his wife Sandy raised their two sons Sean and Tyler in Marathon, and both graduated from Marathon High School before eventually securing jobs with the school district and Florida Keys Aqueduct Authority. 

Throughout his career working in construction and building inspections, Roussin has stacked an impressive resume as a certified State of Florida Building Official, including certifications as a building coordinator administrator and fire safety inspector. He holds a number of diplomas from the International Code Council acknowledging his specialties in both residential and commercial buildings, coastal and floodplain construction, building plans examination and electrical, plumbing and mechanical knowledge. 

For the past five years, Roussin served as Key Colony Beach’s building official before making the transition for an opportunity he “just couldn’t pass up.”

“In general, it’s a much faster pace over here,” he told Keys Weekly. “Over (in Key Colony) I’d do about 400 permits a year. In here, that’s usually about a monthly total, I think.”

With such a drastic change over the last few weeks, Roussin said his plan is to observe the department before making changes, allowing his staff to amplify areas of strength while identifying opportunities for improvement.

“I’m learning how the building department works here,” he said. “So the first thing is just to look and see what goes on.” 

Roussin enters the new position with a number of hot-button issues facing Marathon residents. An ongoing conflict with the state Department of Economic Opportunity has placed Marathon’s permitting process under the microscope, while local multi-story building owners continue to work through the city’s newly-enacted recertification procedure. And with specialty contracting licenses set to expire in just under a year, many local tradesmen are seeking answers from building officials.

Though he knows the resolution to many of these issues lies at the state level, Roussin said he is committed to open communication with residents in pursuit of solutions.

“Where I came from, we had an open door policy. It made it a little hectic, but it was an adventure that way,” he said. “Here, I’m a little more separated, but I still want to feel that anybody can come in any time and talk to me if they have an issue. We’ll see what it is and see if it’s something we can work on or if it’s just that that’s what the rules are at that time.”

“We are very pleased to have Gerard on board,” said Marathon city manager George Garrett in a statement. “Not only does he have the right qualifications, he has also lived in the city since 1984, and he’s very familiar with all our challenges and successes.”

Alex Rickert made the perfectly natural career progression from dolphin trainer to newspaper editor in 2021 after freelancing for Keys Weekly while working full time at Dolphin Research Center. A resident of Marathon since 2015, he fell in love with the Florida Keys community by helping multiple organizations and friends rebuild in the wake of Hurricane Irma. An avid runner, actor, and spearfisherman, he spends as much of his time outside of work on or under the sea having civil disagreements with sharks.