MARATHON: NO PARKING AT HARBOR DRIVE BOAT RAMP

On July 14, Marathon City Council met at 8:30 a.m. to ratify an amendment to an ordinance it heard only the night before, at the regularly scheduled meeting. The fast action was to have the law in place before the start of Lobster Mini Season, which is July 28-29. 

In 2020, the City of Marathon passed a law stating that the boat ramp at Aviation Boulevard and Harbor Drive would be open only for launches of a boat 26 feet long or less. That proved problematic — lacking a measuring tape, it’s often difficult to determine the length of a boat. So on July 14, the city amended the law to say that no boat on a trailer of three axles or more may use the boat ramp. Owners of the vessels, or the trailers, can be fined. 

That boat ramp has two parking spaces for trucks and trailers. Going forward, those will be blocked off on weekends, including national holiday weekends, the week of lobster mini-season, etc. The law also says parking can be prohibited at any time, on a case-by-case basis as determined by the city manager. “Closure shall begin at 6 p.m. on the night before any of these periods and end at 7 a.m. the morning after any of these time periods. Vehicles found parked at the ramp parking spaces during these periods shall be towed.”

The Harbor Drive boat ramp is located in one of the most populous Marathon neighborhoods. On busy weekends, it is common for a line of traffic to form at the boat ramp. City Manager George Garrett said that when one boat owner is trying to park a truck and trailer, and another is trying to launch a boat, it creates a traffic snarl. 

“And sometimes the trailer and truck are too long, and hang out into the street,” said Councilman Mark Senmartin, who lives in the same neighborhood.

Owners of boats or trailers in violation can be fined $50. 

There have also been instances where trucks and trailers are parked on the Aviation Boulevard right-of-way, owned by the city. The council also asked city staff to tow any vehicles found on the right of way. 

During lobster mini-season, the City of Marathon will staff informational booths at the other two, larger boat ramps in Marathon — at the Quay on at the east end of Marathon and at the boat ramp at 33rd Street. Staff will be handing out informational pamphlets developed by the Tourist Development Council as part of an educational campaign. Local law enforcement from the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office and Key Colony Beach will help direct traffic at 33rd Street and the Quay.

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Sara Matthis thinks community journalism is important, but not serious; likes weird and wonderful children (she has two); and occasionally tortures herself with sprint-distance triathlons, but only if she has a good chance of beating her sister.