Florida Keys News
Thursday, January 16, 2014
New rules monitor liveaboards

The city's Bight Management Board unanimously approved Wednesday a new policy requiring liveaboards using the historic seaport's dinghy dock to show proof they are having sewage pumpout service done regularly.

If not, the dockmaster will refuse dockage at the city-owned spot behind Turtle Kraals. Repeat offenders will face impounding of their dinghies and a $25 fee to get the small boats back.

City commissioners must approve the new policy before any new rules go into effect, but Bight staff members said most of the anchored vessels are already complying with the "no discharge" law in place by local, state and federal laws.

All seven Bight board members voted in favor of the new policy -- Jerry Ashby, Harry Bowman, Steve Hensen, Michael Knowles, Jimmy Lane, Kathryn Ovide and Dan Probert,

Dumping urine and other bodily fluids into the protected waters surrounding Key West isn't always easy to enforce, according to city staff.

Recent testing by staff done independently of the Bight pumpout issue showed troubling levels of bacteria in the waters at the Bight.

"There are boats out there that don't have the capability of pumping out," said marina manager Mark Tait. "That's who we will end up targeting."

Commercial fisherman Lee Starling, however, attended the meeting to speak on the proposed policy. He said he believes seabirds are the ones creating the polluted waters, not boat owners.

Tait said the city also needs to ensure that dilapidated dinghies don't damage others at the dock.

"If it's a hazard to a neighboring dinghy, they need to fix it or remove it," said Tait at the meeting held at Old City Hall, 510 Greene St. "We constantly get complaints from people who have $3,000 inflatable dinghies and next to them is someone's nailed-together boat that has nails sticking out of it."

Tait said he didn't believe the hazardous parked dinghies should be handled on a complaint-driven basis.

"I don't think we should wait until it punches a hole into someone's dinghy," Tait told the panel. "They don't have to be all West Marine boats, all perfect. There are some in there you wouldn't want tied next to your boat."

Also Wednesday, the board:

• Approved awarding a $91,728 annual contract, or $18 an hour, to Northstar Security Inc. of Key West for security services. The city had reserved $105,600 a year to put private security at the Ferry Terminal, the marina at Garrison Bight, Mallory Square, the Outer Mole Pier on the Truman Waterfront, and other city-owned spots.

Northstar delivered the best bid over the only other application considered from Diamond Investigations of Cape Coral.

The incoming security cameras will allow city staff and the police to monitor marina areas in real time via cell phones if necessary, said Bight operations manager John Paul Castro, who called the cameras "incredible" in what they can capture in detail.

"These cameras follow people, too," said Castro. "It'll zoom in."

Ovide said there are a growing number of complaints about bicycle theft at the Bight.

Doug Bradshaw, port director, said the cameras cover 80 to 90 percent of all common areas at the Bight and will be aimed at places plagued by crime.

Castro said new security cameras, which he called "incredible," will be installed in about 90 days.

• Elected Knowles to a fourth term as chairman by a 5-2 vote, and Hensen as vice chairman unanimously.

Before the vice chairman vote, Bowman had nominated Hensen as chairman, and the two cast votes for Hensen over Knowles.


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