With the dwindling volunteer base and resignations, a contingent of Marathon’s Youth Club and Parks & Recreation Advisory Board proposed the city create a part-time position to help organize and grow the various sports programs.

Councilman Dick Ramsay raised the issue during the regularly scheduled meeting Tuesday evening, and Parks & Rec Chairman Luis Gonzalez emphasized that with the first budget hearing less than two weeks away, the group is pressed for time to find money in the budget for additional personnel.

“I’ve met with the directors of each sport, and we’ve asked them to individualize what their needs are for their sports as the needs for football are going to be different from girls’ softball and baseball,” Gonzalez told the council, adding that Parks Director Jimmy Schmitt was in support of additional staff to help centralize registration and administer over youth sports.

According the Gonzalez, youth club programs currently serve approximately 600 kids through baseball, softball, t-ball, football, and soccer. Basketball, which is currently run by city staff during the winter months, serves roughly 100 kids. Gonzalez said the Youth Club would like to expand to include flag football and the new staff person could oversee the co-ed softball league that began just this summer.

The idea is to simplify the operation, Gonzalez said, not only with registration but also with scheduling games in other cities and bulk purchasing of equipment with the city’s buying power.

“We want one person who would know the operation of every single sport on a year-round basis,” he explained.

Local attorney Frank Greenman agreed that the position is a very good idea and administratively wise to consolidate all these activities to ensure oversight.

Though job requirements and qualifications still need to be finalized, the council pledged to support the concept.

“If we reduce our charitable contributions from $90,000 a year down to $70,000, there’s the $20,000 for the position right there,” Ramsay suggested.

Mayor Ginger Snead suggested that all vested parties, including the city attorney, come back with an outlined plan for the new position before the first budget hearing on Thursday, Sept. 9 at 5:30 pm at the Marathon Government Center.

In other business:
• Greenman reported to the council on behalf of the Land Acquisition Committee and relatively inactive Affordable Housing Task Force.

“You own five lots between you and the Land Trust,” Greenman told the council. “Three of them have permits ready to be built. There are no takers, and I think the reasons for that are obvious. Right now the market is dead, but there are five lots available whenever a qualified should come up. We also have four or five affordable houses for sale between here and Coral Shores.”

He continued that between the City of Marathon and Florida Forever, the state’s land conservation program, much of the environmentally sensitive property across Grassy Key has been purchased on recommendation of the Land Acquisition Committee.

Greenman added that Patti Childress, the city’s Land Steward, is an asset with an incredible inventory of knowledge.

• City Manager Roger Hernstadt passed along federal lobbyist Rick Marks’ report from Washington, D.C.

“There are in fact not too many things happening in Washington at this point in time,” with regard to the mid-term elections, Hernstadt reported. But, he commended Marks for his work during legislative session to which Snead quickly agreed.

“He helped us despite the fact that we heard there’d be no money, and he’s delivered more times than not for our city,” she applauded.

• Attorney Bob Miller, speaking on behalf of the estate that includes the long-discussed Hanley Property, said the owner is planning to hire a construction engineer to find out exactly what needs to be done to bring the structure into compliance.

Miller said the structure currently stands without doors and windows because there was an attempt some years ago to put a fish processing plant in the building.

“We want to make it right, and we’re going to take care of it,” he affirmed.

• Council voted to throw out the resulting bids of a Request for Proposals from three companies to perform beach cleanup services along Marathon’s Sombrero and CocoPlum beaches.

Rich Thompkins of Beachcomber of the Florida Keys, LLC who is currently contracted with the city to perform the service said his original contract was to scrape and remove seaweed periodically or combine it into the dune line. He contended that three months ago, city staff told him he would be required to remove the seaweed and that a $15,000 increase in his proposed contract – from $65,000 per year to $80,000 per year – is to cover the cost of dumpsters he’s rented to collect and remove the debris.

“I have stuff here from FDEP that says seaweed does not have to be removed every time I scrape the beach,” Thompkins said.

The council voted to extend Thompkins’ current contract that is scheduled to expire in September. He agreed to meet with Hernstadt and Ramsay, who requested he be present at the negotiating table, to iron out the kinks in the contract.


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