FLORIDA KEYS -- Florida's Department of Economic Opportunity has given Islamorada a perfect score for progress this year on central sewers, as well as other matters the village must address as an Area of Critical State Concern.
Meanwhile, Marathon and Monroe County also received a thumbs up from the state.
Leading the way, though, was Islamorada, which accomplished all 10 tasks targeted by the state for completion during 2012, says a Nov. 20 report released by DEO.
Notably, DEO praised the village for getting its sewer project under way after many years of debate. During 2012, the village entered into an interlocal sewage treatment agreement with Key Largo and then signed a $91 million contract to sewer all of the village outside of north Plantation Key, as well as to fix the system within the Plantation Key Colony neighborhood.
The finding of "Substantial Progress" by the state means that the village needn't worry about the state withholding building allocations in the coming year, which is one hammer the DEO wields over local governments in order to encourage compliance of the Area of Critical State Concern program.
The village is allotted 28 residential building permits annually by the state of which six must go to affordable housing.
In addition to sewers, the DEO work program requires Keys governments to preserve habitat and maintain appropriate hurricane clearance times. The state commended the village for participating in a countywide hurricane evacuation modeling effort and for obtaining federal grants for use in acquiring wastewater lift station properties.
Village Manager Ed Koconis said the report card shows that the village has diligently worked on its requirements under the Area of Critical State Concern Act this year.
"We're happy and thanks to everybody for us getting the wastewater done, because that's been a big issue," he said.
In the Nov. 20 report, the DEO also concluded that Marathon and Monroe County have made "Substantial Progress" on their 2012 Area of Critical State Concern tasks. Marathon accomplished 18 of 21 tasks targeted by the state for completion this year. Among the city's achievements were the installation of more wastewater collection lines, the elimination of direct stormwater outfalls at three streets that drain directly into Florida Bay and participation in the hurricane evacuation workshop.
One thing the city fell short on was wastewater connections in the area between 11th Street and 39th Street. Twenty-six percent of property owners are connected in that area, rather than 100 percent.
Overall, though, the state gave Marathon high marks.
"I'm extremely proud of the progress that Marathon has made and continues to make every day," City Manager Roger Hernstadt said. "We have an elected body that recognizes that if you are standing still you are really falling behind."
Meanwhile, Monroe County completed 19 out of its 28 Critical Concern tasks. Among the accomplishments was the purchase of 73 environmentally sensitive lots for preservation. Among the items not completed were designs for collection and transmission systems for the Cudjoe Key Regional Wastewater Treatment Plant.