September 6, 2017

File
An aerial image of Boot Key Harbor shows a large number of boats moored there. Boaters are staying longer due to improvements in services, according to Marathon's city manager.

File An aerial image of Boot Key Harbor shows a large number of boats moored there. Boaters are staying longer due to improvements in services, according to Marathon's city manager.

MARATHON —  Marathon’s city manager traveled to Tallahassee last week to seek more affordable housing permits and to extend the state’s mooring field agreement for the city marina from six months to a year. 

Manager Chuck Lindsey said he spoke with department heads at both the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity and the Department of Environmental Protection and found them understanding of the Keys’ challenges and supportive of sharing information which could lead to solutions. 

The DEO reviews comprehensive land use plans and gives technical assistance and grants for affordable housing, among other things.

Lindsey was present for the Aug. 30 meeting of the state Affordable Housing Workgroup, created by an act of the Legislature. In meetings with department heads, Lindsey emphasized Marathon’s special needs in a state area of critical concern. Ultimately, he hopes his discussions lead to an increased number of building permits. Marathon has been consistent in adding workforce and affordable housing units to its range of housing possibilities due to residents’ needs.

Currently in Marathon, the Singh Company has added fill to vacant Knights Key and is building a 200-unit oceanfront resort with a lazy river, among other amenities. In adherence to Marathon’s code, the company is building 30 affordable and workforce housing units there. The project’s expected completion date is December 2018.

Lindsey returned to Marathon with an agreement from the state to change its leasing agreement on mooring fields in the city. The state law governing length of stay applicable to state-owned bay bottom in Boot Key Harbor was six months, which comprises a little more than half of the mooring balls. In contrast, Marathon’s mooring ball lease agreement allowed live-aboards to stay for a year in Boot Key where Marathon owned the bay bottom.

“We were looking for consistency across the mooring field,” said Deputy City Manager George Garrett.

“It’s a management challenge,” added Lindsey. “We’ve been working for years to find a better way to manage a resource.” 

Currently approved by DEP, the one-year mooring agreement proceeds to the state Board of Trustees for recommendation to the Cabinet.

About eight to 10 years ago, harbor residents stayed two to three months, said Lindsey. 

“Now that our water quality and pump-out service is better, people are staying longer,” he said.