An aerial of the parking situation at the Fills in June 2020. Some cars parked in the right-of-way while others double-parked in spots. Village public works officials have since created delineated parking at the Fills. GEO TOTH/Contributed

Hundreds of residents are voicing their say on the future of the Fills, a series of small islands connecting Upper and Lower Matecumbe Keys that once saw cars, chaos and trash. 

A survey released in early April with a series of questions over the property saw nearly 955 responses as of April 13.

Village officials are trying to figure out a direction on the property that’s owned by the state and managed by the village since 2019. Years of discussions and a lack of decisive action prompted Vice Mayor Sharon Mahoney to lead the charge on a survey with questions drafted by local residents Sue Miller, Alina Davis and Sandy Moret.

Preliminary figures from the survey presented to the council during a special meeting earlier in the week found that of the responses, around 83% were against the idea of developing the Fills into a park, with amenities that would include parking, launching ramp, picnic tables and trash collection services for the general public. 

Residents were split on the idea of six parking areas with 15-minute limits on the northbound and southbound sides of the road to give visitors the chance to take pictures of a scenic view. Preliminary survey results showed roughly 51% saying “no.” 

Around 86% said “no” to the use of taxpayer dollars to fund development and maintenance costs at the Fills. 

With 950-plus completed surveys, roughly 10% of the village’s voting population voiced their input.

Islamorada residents have until April 30 to fill out the Fills survey. People can only fill out the survey once by visiting or by mailing the survey found in the Upper Keys Weekly newspaper to Mahoney at P.O. Box 650, Islamorada, FL, 33036. 

Village officials expect to hold a special meeting in mid-May to discuss the results and a direction for the Fills.

Jim McCarthy is one of the many Western New Yorkers who escaped the snow and frigid temperatures for warm living by the water. 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 4-plus years in the Keys, Jim has enjoyed connecting with the community. “One of my college professors would always preach to be curious,” he said. “Behind every person is a story that’s unique to them, and one worth telling. As writers, we are the ones who paint the pictures in the readers minds of the emotions, the struggles and the triumphs.” Jim is past president of the Key Largo Sunset Rotary Club, which is composed of energetic members who serve the community’s youth and older populations. Jim is a sports fanatic who loves to watch football, hockey, mixed martial arts and golf. He also enjoys time with family and his new baby boy, Lucas, who arrived Oct. 4, 2022.