MARATHON -- The Marathon City Council moved last week to adopt a tow truck ordinance with a few changes.
It is now mandatory for all tow wreckers performing non-consent towing to be registered with the city. This was meant to reduce the incidences of "rogue" tow operators purported to originate in Miami.
Also, cars towed from Marathon may not go to an impound yard that is more than 13 miles away.
Finally, wrecker operators must have the property owner or an authorized agent sign off on tows initiated by the tow company.
The last is a salient point for many Marathon residents annoyed with the tows initiated at the former Quay property next to the boat ramp on the east end of Marathon.
According to a memo from City Manager Roger Hernstadt, "Concerns regarding [this lot] ... led to a discussion with the owner's representative. This conversation led to an understanding that the owner was unaware that the property had been posted under the provisions. ... The owner's representative has subsequently sent notice to the wrecker operator informing them that they must cease operations on the property and remove all signs posted."
In other news:
• The council got an update on wastewater construction and installation. All Marathon residents have received a connection notice except for pockets of people living in Fisherman's Point, Keys RV and along U.S.1 on Grassy Key. Also, the Florida Department of Transportation has said that the pump stations located along the Grassy Key corridor must be modified. The balustrades will be removed and other equipment height must be modified but the location of the equipment does not have to be moved off the highway right-of-way.
• The council heard a request from Mike Puto to barricade part of 33rd Street in Marathon near the recreation center for a high school seniors celebration on Sunday, June 3.
Puto said the road would be opened and closed as needed to allow public access. He estimated the party would be over before midnight.
• Marathon Fire Chief John Johnson gave the council an update on the recent Boot Key fire. Despite initial reports of a burning boat, the Trauma Star helicopter pilot was able to pinpoint the location to an old box trailer ablaze amidst some other construction materials. Johnson said the cause was undetermined.
Fire personnel were able to put the fire out by catching a ride on the Monroe County Sheriff's Office boat and then used a variety of hand tools, a bucket brigade and portable, generator-driven pumps to put out the fire. The council also learned that Marathon might be able to "piggy back" on a Monroe County bid for new hydrants.