John and David Coffin of Coffin Construction and Debbie London of the City of Marathon examine placement options for new signage at Oceanfront Park in Marathon. Phase two, right, is complete and phase 3, left, including the half-constructed educational tiki hut is still under construction. The park is set to be completely finished by late summer of 2014.

Construction of Marathon’s newest city park — Oceanfront Park — started in 2012. Phase 2 is almost complete and phase 3 is already underway. The little-known park located on the same piece of property as the City Hall trailers, is underutilized, according to Mayor Dick Ramsay.

“It’s major asset, but I’m not sure all of our citizens are aware it’s there,” he said. Ramsay said he’s excited to see the park continue to develop — the last phase calls for walking and fitness trails, restrooms and a monument or two. “I would hope that our future plans might also include a boat ramp. I’d like to see if that’s feasible and maybe add an entrance separate than that of city hall.”

The first phase comprised the construction of some kayak docks, including a floating structure that is accessible by the disabled. It’s a premium location for a kayak dock in the Middle Keys with direct access to one of the best flats in the region — good for kayaking and paddleboard yoga.

“The entire park is ADA,” said Debbie London, community services director for the city, referring to the Americans with Disabilities Acts that makes public spaces open for every person. That extends to ramps leading up to the newest four pavilions — one for fishing complete with educational signage, one for reading or meditation, and two more roll-on pavilions. Under construction right now is a fishing pier that runs parallel to the shoreline and a large, educational tiki hut that measures 600 square feet.

“The purpose of it is to have groups come — from the elementary school or the Boy Scouts — for educational activities,” London said.

Boardwalks, some still under construction, run along a reinforced riprap shoreline. There are also plans to install a Sombrero Light monument and permanent binoculars visitors can use to see the real thing offshore.

Although the park will feature many amenities, the cost to the taxpayers of Marathon is very low because of the matching grant monies secured by city staff.   Grants have been secured from every source imaginable including Monroe County’s Tourist Development Council and federal agencies such as the Department of the Interior and National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration. So far, the city has put about $250,000 into the park and secured a little more than that in matching funds. London said the entire project will cost about $548,000 park, and city staff is still researching more grant sources to pay for planned amenities and extra such as paving the road that leads to Oceanfront park.

Citizens and visitors are encouraged to visit the Oceanside park located at City Hall, between 98th and 99th streets. The park is open from sunrise to sunset and dog friendly for leashed pets.


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