Florida Keys News - Islamorada/KL Free Press
Wednesday, November 20, 2013
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Commission to vote on Rowell's, other local matters

KEY LARGO -- The Monroe County Commission's final vote to purchase a $5 million bayfront property is to take place Wednesday, Nov. 20, at the Murray E. Nelson Government and Cultural Center, mile marker 102, bayside.

Several non-profit organizations lease Rowell's Marina for large outdoor events like the beer and seafood festivals.

Because the purchase price of the 8-acre Rowell's Marina is higher than the average of two county appraisals, at least four of the five commissioners must approve the purchase. Commissioner Danny Kolhage remains opposed to the deal, saying such money should be spent on road and bridge improvements.

During a September vote to make an offer on the property, Commissioner Heather Carruthers offered her support with the caveat that County Administrator Roman Gastesi prepare and return an operations and financial plan for the property before the final vote to buy it.

What to do with the property is still under discussion. A marina with dock slips is being considered, but boat ramps and parking for boat trailers are not. Gastesi has not yet made a decision on removing existing structures and docks.

The discussion regarding the marina is set for 11 a.m.

The County Commission is also expected this week to approve spending money to help restore parts of Dagny Johnson Key Largo Hammock Botanical State Park.

The money to be approved is about $20,000 for a biologist to review the site of what is expected to be a $700,000 project to restore almost 4 acres of tropical hardwood hammock. The restoration is part of a mitigation agreement between the state and the Key Largo Wastewater Treatment District over the construction of its treatment plant at mile marker 101.5, oceanside.

The purpose of the restoration is to provide Key Largo woodrat habitiat and to remove rundown buildings that were part of a once-planned resort community of Port Bouganville. The project is expected to remove fill from the areas to return the habitat to its natural elevation.

In other action, the commission will vote on abandoning another piece of public waterfront right-of-way. The property in question sits at the end of Pompano Drive next to the Marvin D. Adams Waterway, otherwise known as "The Cut." Similar public access points have been abandoned by the county along the waterway, according to agenda documents.

Home builder Don Horton told the Free Press that when the waterway was cut, it left a public right-of-way next to a property that backed up to the water, which he says was not intended.

The abandonment is to allow new homeowners to build a dock, he said.

Also up for approval is a $52,200 agreement with Currie Sowards Aguila Architects to complete plans for turning a former recycling center on Magnolia Street into county Public Works offices. In addition to drawing the plans, the company will prepare documents for the county to send out for bidding. The architects will also make visits to the property throughout construction.

jgore@keysnews.com

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