“Halloween is not a city-sponsored event,” said Marathon Councilman Mark Senmartin at a meeting on Sept. 8. “There’s been some confusion about what’s allowed and what’s not allowed. This is a resident event that is put on by locals.”

Senmartin was addressing recent chatter on Facebook regarding whether the event in the neighborhood behind the airport would go on in 2020 due to worries about coronavirus.

“If they want to hand out candy to trick or treaters, they can. Of course, we urge anybody at any type of event where people are gathered in large numbers to wear a mask. That shouldn’t be a problem on Halloween. Just don’t share the same Everlasting Gobstopper,” Senmartin said. He noted that the city’s only involvement in the annual event is to place trash cans in the neighborhood and clean up the following day. The Monroe County Sheriff’s Office has extra deputies patrolling the neighborhood to keep the peace, and usher out the guests at the evening’s close.

“Absolutely we will be there this year,” said Capt. Don Hiller, Marathon’s ranking officer. 

Later in the meeting, the city approved use of Marathon Community Park for a drive-through Halloween event, hosted by the Zonta Club. Participants will snake through the park in a one-way directional car parade, collecting treats. It is intended to replace the event that usually occurs at the Gulfside Village shopping plaza where the youngest trick or treaters show off their costumes and collect candy. 

The “Drive Up Halloween” will be held on Saturday, Oct. 31 from 5 to 7 p.m.

“We are accepting requests for organizations or businesses to join the event,” said Zonta’s Charlotte Quinn. (For more information, please call Erin Arnett at 305-481-0367.)

Marathon’s parks and recreation department will begin offering in-person programming for youth on Monday, Sept. 14 — the same day Monroe County Schools accepts all students back on campus for in-person instruction. Parks and Recreation Director Paul Davis said the parks will follow the same CDC safety and sanitation rules as the schools. 

In other news:

  • The city is going to partner with other local agencies to look for solutions to daytrippers camping on the state right-of-way on Grassy Key. “I caution the council about taking any responsibility,” said Marathon City Manager Chuck Lindsey, “because we all know what happened in Islamorada.” The Village of Islamorada subleased the state Department of Transportation’s right of way near the Indian Key Boat Ramp earlier this year and reduced the public’s access. Islamorada projects it will spend $54,185 for public works personnel salary in 2020 and is considering the construction of a cable-barrier fence projected to cost $322,000.  
  • The Marathon High School homecoming parade is set for Thursday, Oct. 8. The American Cancer Society Making Strides Walk is set for Saturday, Oct. 24.
  • The Marathon City Council approved the second reading for a site development change to Grassy Flats Resort and Beach Club and an additional 100 hotel rooms for Isla Bella Beach Resort. Councilman Luis Gonzalez asked for a clarification. “We don’t have a suitcase full of those hotel room building rights and hand them out, correct? Just so the public can understand.” City Planning Director George Garrett confirmed: “We don’t have any transient building rights to hand out. Those are acquired by the developer through existing hotels. For example, they may acquire an old motel somewhere and maybe bulldoze it or convert it to affordable housing.”
  • The City of Marathon handed out its twice-yearly allocation of new residential building rights — 8 general market building rights, 3 owner-occupied market building rights and two affordable building rights. 
  • A group of citizens spoke during the public comment portion of the meeting to protest planned construction on Mockingbird Lane. The opposition was adamant that the lot is too small to support two homes that have been approved by the city’s planning department. 
  • Steve Williams was hired as the City of Marathon’s in-house attorney. His base salary is $158,067.  

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