White Marlin Beach on May 23, 2020. GEO TOTH/Contributed

More than 100 boats anchored off White Marlin Beach on Lower Matecumbe, near the Port Antigua community, on May 23. Several boats were spotted rafting, while groups of people gathered for what was a nice day on a rain-dominant Memorial Day weekend.

The bayside sandbar has grown in popularity over the years, and it’s led to an array of issues involving disorderly individuals stepping onto private beaches and properties. A resolution to mitigate some of the issues, however, is in the works as Islamorada prepares to place the first reading of an ordinance for the June meeting to implement a swim zone. 

Discussions date back to 2014 when meetings among council, residents and law enforcement discussed growing concern regarding activity at the popular sandbar and issues surrounding quality of life for homeowners who’ve had to force drunk individuals off their property. 

At a Feb. 13 village council meeting, Port Antigua resident David Petkovich played council members a 4-minute clip with pictures of numerous boats on the sandbar and trashing from all the activity. Video during the clip showed disorderly people trespassing onto private property — and even becoming physical with property owners.

The discussion led to talk of legislation that would target issues seen on the water — a proposal to implement a 300-foot swim area. During a May 21 meeting, Village Attorney Roget Bryan briefly discussed the matter with council members and said the proposed swim zone “is the most expedient area to achieve positive results.” 

Swim zones are typically marked off with buoys and rope. Boats would essentially be banned. 

“It’s a pretty good idea. We just have to work on the law enforcement aspect,” councilman Chris Sante said. “I’ve been down there (to the area of the sandbar). People are just disrespectful in the way they come through the yard and do nasty things and play music loud. It’s pretty bad.”

Port Antigua resident David Webb told council during the meeting that fixing the issues at White Marlin Beach is a high priority. He said the status quo cannot be acceptable any longer. 

“The conditions down here have reached an unacceptable level from a safety and quality-of-life standpoint,” he said. 

The next village council meeting is slated for Thursday, June 18 at 5:30 p.m.

A general concept provided to council on the proposed swim zone at White Marlin Beach. CONTRIBUTED

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