a group of people standing in front of a tv
The Marathon City Council, City Manager George Garrett and Marina and Ports Director Sean Cannon recognize city marina technician Antoinette Smith for her five years of service to Marathon on May 14. ALEX RICKERT/Keys Weekly

The Marathon City Council returned to action on May 14, revisiting parking concerns on the east end of Aviation Boulevard and tackling minor right-of-way abandonments in its brief session.

Representatives from Captain Brian’s Pool and Landscape Service, located at the east end of Aviation Boulevard, opened Tuesday’s session with a request to reinstate parallel parking spaces next to the boulevard’s eastbound lane approaching 107th Street, recently re-confirmed as a no-parking zone in October 2023 with the council’s passage of ordinance 2023-20.

The area has previously drawn concerns from residents, council members and city officials due to its proximity to the Aviation Boulevard bike path, currently running between the parking spaces in question and the road itself. Public commenters spoke in favor of moving the bike path to run along the southern edge of the existing right-of-way while parking cars between the path and the road, an idea councilman Jeff Smith said had been ruled out by city staff in previous discussions.

“If we can put the bike path against the fence … I’m all for that,” Smith said. “But if it’s a constant choice between parking for a business and the safety of a pedestrian or bicyclist, I’m going with the bicyclist all day long.”

“I’m not saying it’s impossible, but I think you need to consider the fact that (Public Works Director) Carlos (Solis) is technically right,” said City Manager George Garrett. “There’s a reason for those sorts of dimensions, and they’re all safety-related.”

“In my recollection, I haven’t ever witnessed a time where we allowed parking on that street,” added Vice Mayor Lynn Landry. “107th Street is probably the most dangerous street to ride around. … I’m not trying to be a detriment to the business community, but at the same time, protecting our citizens and the people who use that all the time is paramount to me.”

At the request of the council, Garrett agreed to work again with Solis on an attempt to incorporate parking spaces with an altered bike path, but reiterated that such a shift would be “dimensionally difficult.”

In other news:

  • Mayor Robyn Still opened Tuesday’s session with a request to reconstitute a Parks and Recreation board to serve as a liaison between the city and community recreation programs, including Marathon Youth Club baseball and soccer. Following concerns from council members and staff regarding past issues of member participation on the board, the council and staff agreed to add a parks and recreation discussion as a standing quarterly topic at Marathon City Council workshop meetings, with additional updates delivered during the Parks and Recreation report of monthly council sessions.
  • Finance Director Jennifer Johnson presented a schedule of meetings to review and approve the city’s fiscal year 2024/25 budget. Budget discussions will open on Tuesday, July 23 at 5:30 p.m. at a special call meeting to adopt a proposed property tax rate and review the city’s general fund budget. Regular city council meetings will follow on Tuesday, Aug. 27 and Tuesday, Sept. 10. The budget’s first and final public hearings will take place on Tuesday, Sept. 17 and Tuesday, Sept. 24, both beginning at 5:05 p.m.
  • Resolutions 2024-39 and 2024-40, both unanimously approved at Tuesday’s session, confirmed two minor right-of-way abandonments by the city at the south ends of 27th Street Ocean and 109th Street Ocean. Though all waterfront access at the end of 27th Street Ocean is privately owned, the council confirmed that the small area requested for abandonment at the end of 109th Street will not prevent waterfront access for the public on city-owned land on the street’s south end.
  • Monroe County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Col. Chad Scibilia presented the council with a refund check for $70,938, representing unspent funds from the sheriff’s office in its previous year’s budget.
  • After ongoing discussions with the Florida Keys Contractors Association, Marathon will incorporate an open discussion with contractors and the public for permitting issues into its workshop meeting on Tuesday, May 28 at 5:30 p.m.
Alex Rickert
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.