July 11, 2018

MARATHON — The city has lacked a method for nominating or designating a structure as locally significant or historic — until now.

A proposed ordinance amendment set to be considered July 10 by the Marathon City Council seeks to change that by updating code sections pertaining to historic and archeological sites within Marathon. It also aims to create a preservation board. The Tuesday meeting occurred after press time.

Marathon’s comprehensive land use plan states the city should conduct a survey to identify architecturally and historically significant sites looking at structures 40 years old and older. 

“This is rather progressive,” wrote Planning Director George Garrett, “as a structure is not generally eligible to be historic unless it is 50 years old.”  

It also provides for a potential “watch list” that would catch any structures not deemed historic, but having intrinsic or architectural details that may make them eligible if they stand the test of time. 

“By denoting these structures, we may plan ahead for their nomination and preservation and rehabilitation without the worry they may be demolished before their true value is realized,” Garrett wrote.

The Marathon Planning Commission unanimously recommended to update the code sections.

The council also was to discuss property taxes as it sets a tentative millage rate for the coming fiscal year. The proposed millage will be compared to previous tax rates, and expressed in terms of how much it is above or below “the rollback rate,” or the rate that would raise the same amount of dollars as the current fiscal year’s assessment. After this initial rate is established, by law it can decrease but cannot rise.

The wastewater department is also seeking to expend about $44,000 for a computerized backup plan in the event of a hurricane or other emergency. Units for four service areas are to run concurrently with existing computers, and if one fails, the other will take over operations seamlessly. 

“This is extremely important especially during abnormal events when electrical surges can wreak havoc on computer controllers,” Utility Director Dan Saus said. This purchase is reimbursable through the Mayfield Grant.

Also up for approval was an interlocal agreement with Monroe County for Hurricane Irma marine debris clearing and related services under a U.S. Natural Resources Conservation Service grant. Since Sept. 10, various waterway debris has posed a threat to health, safety and welfare. Marathon’s portion of the grant is $7.5 million for construction cost, which is 75 percent reimbursable, and $375,475 for related costs such as technical assistance, which is 100 percent reimbursable from NRCS.

Appropriations for this project will be included in the fiscal year 2019 stormwater budget with other canal and culvert projects, said David Migut, city attorney. Any project costs incurred prior to Oct. 1, when the new fiscal year begins, will require appropriation by the council. The city’s required match will be funded through state Stewardship Act funds.