New lease on life for Pigeon Key Foundation

T.The article was barely completed before the Monroe County Board of Commissioners agreed to extend the lease to the Pigeon Key Foundation to manage the tiny island in the middle of the 7 Mile Bridge.

The island was originally leased to non-profit organizations for 30 years in 1993. The new lease runs until 2033 and can be extended for a further 10 years.

Foundation director Kelly McKinnon thanked the county staff and commission.

“We’re going to make sure Monroe County is proud of Pigeon Key and keep up the work we are doing out there,” he said.

The county also revised the cost of renovating the wooden Pigeon Key ramp to $ 2.4 million, an increase of nearly $ half a million. Staff said the change was necessary due to a planning error in calculating steel weight in relation to structural requirements.

However, the commission wasn’t as sympathetic after hearing from a representative of the Lower Keys affordable 208-unit housing project, the Quarry. He requested an additional $ 84,000 to build a structural retaining wall to support a road.

So far, Monroe County is paying the project’s developers nearly $ 1.5 million – to create a new access road to ease the load on the neighborhood streets, complete sewer connections, build a bike path, and add buffering landscape. The additional $ 84,000 would improve the road that would return to Monroe County’s ownership. It was too much for Commissioners Heather Carruthers and Danny Kolhage, too.

“This was a strategic mistake,” said Kolhage of the request for additional funds.

“Is it worth it? Eighty-four thousand dollars? After all we gave you?” Carruthers asked Representative Bart Smith.

Commissioners Michelle Coldiron and David Rice calmed the water.

“This is a retaining wall to protect a road that will eventually be turned over to the county. This is an investment in the affordable housing we all want, ”said Coldiron.

Coldiron, Rice and Kolhage agreed to pay the additional $ 84,000, while Monroe County Mayors Sylvia Murphy and Carruthers voted no. The movement carried.

In other news:

  • A public hearing will be held at the Marathon Government Center on Thursday, April 25th at 5:00 p.m. to review the land management plan for state land leased to Monroe County. The update is required every 10 years, and the bylaws require a public hearing as Monroe County manages more than 160 acres. Coldiron is one of the members of the public advisory board.
  • The commission gave District Attorney Bob Shillinger permission to investigate the possibility of bringing probation for misdemeanors into the company and the costs associated with the move. In the past, the contract was outsourced to various organizations such as the Salvation Army.
  • The commission cleared the purchase of two lots on Big Pine Key for affordable housing and one for conservation.
  • Finance director Tina Boan told the commission that she had received additional FEMA reimbursements of $ 666,000. She expects to receive an additional $ 11 million for rubble work by the next meeting.

The commission also asked for an update on FEMA’s disputed appeal of the $ 6 million base camp cost during Hurricane Irma. The prosecutor wrote a letter to the State Department of Emergency Management. “I am encouraged and optimistic,” said Shillinger. District Administrator Roman Gastesi told the commission that the State Director for Emergency Management had verbally told him he had to deal with the impact of Hurricane Michael on the panhandle before he could turn his attention to the keys.

  • Legislative Director Lisa Tennyson briefed the Commission on what was happening in Tallahassee. (For details on invoices, see page xx.) She outlined various “pre-emptive invoices” designed to remove authority from local authorities and grant them to the state. She said she hoped the bill for the vacation rental, which allows for nightly rentals in residential areas, stalled. And she warned commissioners of SB 1730 and HB 207, legislation that would deny local governments the ability to negotiate affordable housing when permits are issued for new developments.

“All of these preventive measures seem to be coming in a wave,” said Kolhage. “Where does that stuff come from?”

  • The commission cleared the purchase of five transactions that removed building rights from privately owned land. The move will reduce the county’s risk in revenue cases from 2023 when the state no longer grants new development rights to the keys while the homeowner continues to pay taxes on the property that can no longer be used to build a new home.

Local contractors invited to apply

The Monroe County Board of County Commissioners approved requesting proposals from businesses and vendors to provide a variety of emergency services in the event of a hurricane or other natural disaster. Monroe County Emergency Management and the Monroe County Attorney’s Office will work with companies on standby contracts.

“These contracts are only activated in an emergency like a hurricane,” said assistant district attorney Cynthia Hall. “This is the critical response required from day one to day 120 for a quick and effective recovery from a storm.”

The required emergency services include plumbing, roof repairs, catering, janitorial and mold remediation. The full list of services required can be found in the district’s tender (RFP). The RFP will be published on demand from Saturday April 20th at www.monroecounty-fl.gov/demandstar. Proposals are due by 3pm on May 29th

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