MARATHON -- The April 24 meeting of the Marathon City Council opened with a tribute to the late historian Dan Gallagher.
Gallagher, a Marathon resident, wrote several books on Florida Keys history with special attention to the Middle Keys and the Overseas Railroad. He was honored posthumously by the council and the Pigeon Key Foundation. Gallagher's widow, Rita Irwin, accepted the awards on his behalf.
"Dan loved the Florida Keys and Marathon. I hope we can keep his spirit alive by continuing to educate everyone about our history," she said.
The council then turned its attention to a proposed towing ordinance that would require all towing operators to register with the city and pay a $100 fee.
Tow operators also would be required to submit a list of private properties it will post with tow warnings and a Notarized letter from each property owner or lessee agreeing to the signage and service.
Council members redirected staff to address who can authorize initiating a tow and how to proceed if the vehicle owner is inside the car. The second reading of the ordinance will be Tuesday, May 8.
The ordinance grew out of citizen complaints regarding the towing practices at The Quay property adjacent to the boat ramp at the east end of Marathon. Provided the tow operators and property owner comply with Marathon's new rules, it will still be illegal for residents to park boat trailers at that location and vehicles will be subject to tow.
"Ever since we improved that ramp, people have started parking over [at The Quay]. A lot of people still have that mindset," said John Whalton, a Marathon resident. "Maybe the city should put a sign up at the ramp that reads 'The guys next door aren't kidding. They are going to freakin' tow your car away.' Maybe we need those generic signs at all of our ramps."
The council also passed a new sludge hauling ordinance during last week's meeting. It requires service providers to have the appropriate state and county licenses, proof of the business' physical location and state where the sludge will be hauled to be disposed.
The ordinance also requires the haulers to keep a log of where it collects sludge, an estimated amount of how much is collected and a receipt from the disposal facility acknowledging the transaction. The city will require records to be kept for five years.
The ordinance was created in response to reports of sludge haulers illegally dumping waste on the mainland. None of the reports alleged that the sludge came from Marathon.
Council member Dick Ramsay said in the future he would like to expand the ordinance to cover all types of waste collection businesses such as those that collect and transport used cooking oil or automotive oil.
In other news:
• The building department reported that revenues were covering expenses at the six-month mark of the annual budget; however, it's still short of its projected revenue by about $180,000. Staff also said the new and improved permit application process has reduced the number of days it takes to process an application from 16 days to about eight days.
• The city agreed to an interlocal agreement with the Florida Department of Transportation to seek federal funds for an improvement to the bridge on Coco Plum Drive. The city wants to improve safety for pedestrians and cyclists.
• The city also agreed to budget $37,500 in its next fiscal year for improvements to the kayak launch and boardwalk at the City Hall property. It did so in order to apply for a Monroe County Tourist Development Council "bricks and mortar" matching grant.