Florida Keys News
Saturday, January 19, 2013
Mosquito Control could be forced to move
Agency looking at its options, including moving to Marathon

The Florida Keys Mosquito Control District may be looking for a new home for its headquarters, as the city of Key West may not renew its lease, or reduce the amount of land it leases to the district for the agency's main offices.

Mosquito Control has been working out of the city-owned property on College Road on Stock Island since 1959, which it currently rents for a $1 a year.

City and Mosquito Control officials met last week to discuss the future of the lease, which expires May 2014. The city is considering using a portion of the property on Stock Island for a homeless center and another portion for parking for the Florida Keys Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (FKSPCA).

There still could be room for Mosquito Control offices, but the current building may need to be torn down, Mayor Craig Cates said.

"We may need to adjust the size so everyone fits," Cates said. "We need to make sure there is room for everyone."

Key West City Manager Bob Vitas weighed in.

"Mosquito Control's requirement for the existing facility, especially parking, has exceeded its leasehold," he said.

"The city has encouraged Mosquito Control to explore their options for a facility that will better serve their needs, and the city is exploring its options to best serve the community," Vitas told The Citizen in an email.

For the past several years, Mosquito Control officials have been discussing moving headquarters and building a new facility elsewhere, as the concrete in its current headquarters has begun to spall and the building is in poor shape. The board has debated setting money aside for a new building, but the district currently only has $500,000 in its funds for that, Mosquito Control Executive Director Michael Doyle said.

The recent discussion with the city has brought greater timeliness to the issue and district officials are now considering moving the headquarters to the district's Marathon offices and either renting or buying a small piece of industrial-zoned land in the Lower Keys for a small office and storage of equipment and chemicals, Doyle and some board members said.

The most economical answer right now would be to move the headquarters to the Marathon offices, which are much larger and newer than the Stock Island offices, Doyle said. The Marathon office opened in 2007.

However, the Stock Island office currently houses the most field inspectors and personnel, and those workers have spent the past several years fighting the biggest Keys' public health issue in recent years -- dengue fever. Key West was the epicenter of an outbreak in 2009 and 2010.

Thirty-eight people work out of the Stock Island headquarters, compared to 23 in Marathon and 11 people in Key Largo.

The board will discuss the issue when it meets at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Stock Island headquarters, 5224 College Road.

tohara@keysnews.com

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