June 16, 2008

Island Getting Reappraised: Council OKs More Study of Boot Key

By Ryan McCarthy, Florida Keys Keynoter, Marathon

Jun. 14--The Marathon City Council met in regular session Tuesday and took the following actions:

u Approved a motion to seek proposals for a second appraisal of Boot Key.

An appraisal done by Waronker & Rosen Inc. released in June valued the island at $3.4 million with bridge access and $1.47 without. Council members said they feel the island's three landowners would likely have one done and the city should do another to support its own.

The bridge to the island is in disrepair and has been closed since December to traffic of any kind, even pedestrian. Figures as high as $10 million have been floated to complete repairs, which the city doesn't want pay.

"I do believe we're going to seriously pursue this property," Councilman Mike Cinque said about buying the island outright rather than repairing the dated bridge leading to it. "We're going to have to reaffirm our position."

Councilman Don Vasil said the city should consider having the Waronker & Rosen appraisal confirmed by another firm to save costs. Deputy City Manager C.J. Geotis said the report cost roughly $25,000 to prepare.

"Rather than going through a whole other appraisal, why not pay someone to look at what we've already got and say yay or nay to it," Vasil said.

One Boot Key landowner, Keys Radio Group owner Joe Nascone, has threatened the city with a lawsuit if it chooses not to repair the bridge.

According to Waronker & Rosen's appraisal, Nascone's property was the only one to lose significant value because of no bridge access - $2.42 million with it versus $605,000 without it.

-- Approved an ordinance allowing City Manager Clyde Burnett to grant limited waivers of building permit fees for nonprofit organizations in the city.

Nonprofit groups with a 501(c)3 designation through the Internal Revenue Service can apply for waivers provided any one waiver does not exceed $150. Burnett will report to council each month on waivers he grants.

-- Approved an ordinance requiring property owners to maintain mangroves and prevent them from blocking navigable waterways. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection requires permits to trim and remove mangroves; the work must be supervised by a certified DEP employee or registered landscape architect.

-- Voted down a resolution to amend the city's purchasing policy, which requires council approval for purchases of $10,000 to $25,000.

The amendment called for Burnett to be able to approve purchases and change orders to existing contracts up to $25,000, as opposed to the current $10,000 limit. It also would have allowed for a monthly report of all renewals, change orders and extensions he approves.

Councilwoman Marilyn Tempest moved to pass the motion but it wasn't seconded.

"I don't think we should be micromanaging to this level. I just think we have a responsible staff and we will be able to monitor it," she said.

"The change has not handcuffed us to any large degree that I've seen. Staff doesn't like it, obviously, because they are somewhat restricted by it," Vice Mayor Chris Bull said. "In the last 18 months, we've been tweaking the policies at every whim. Let things go and settle."


To see more of the Keynoter, or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://www.keynoter.com.

Copyright (c) 2008, Florida Keys Keynoter, Marathon

Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

For reprints, email [email protected], call 800-374-7985 or 847-635-6550, send a fax to 847-635-6968, or write to The Permissions Group Inc., 1247 Milwaukee Ave., Suite 303, Glenview, IL 60025, USA.