ISLAMORADA TRAFFIC SOLUTION? MULLS PARK-N-RIDE VILLAGE OF SEVERAL MILLIONS

Traffic and parking issues in Islamorada prompted village council members to consider a potential property on Upper Matecumbe Key.

Concerns were expressed at a recent council meeting, however, over where the money was coming from for the property located at 81981 Overseas Highway. The stage is scheduled to meet on Wednesday, July 21 at 5:30 p.m. for a special meeting to discuss whether to submit an offer before an impending deadline.

At a previous meeting in April, council members asked staff to investigate the property with a suggested price of $ 2.15 million. It is listed by Retail Net Real Estate and the offer deadline is Wednesday July 21.

Mayor Buddy Pinder, who kicked off a discussion at a July 1 meeting, acknowledged the village’s parking limitations, especially on Upper Matecumbe Key, where the majority of businesses are located. Pinder said business owners have expressed frustration with cars parking in their places to go elsewhere.

“I thought we could do a parking lot, a public-private partnership where the village gets a check,” he said. “It would be a park and ride like Freebee, which picks them up there and they can have it delivered to Florida Keys Brewing Co. or Islamorada Beer Company or the (green) turtle or wherever they go, so that’s “I’ll take the traffic off the road.

Village director Greg Oravec said the council should ask itself two questions: “Can you buy it and should you buy it?” “

– As for you, there is money in the general fund. Without a strategic plan, vision and priorities, it becomes difficult to assess whether or not this is the highest priority, ”he said.

Oravec said a local business owner was among the group of interested bidders for the property. Oravec said that if the bidder was lucky enough to secure the property, they would make it available to the village at their own expense. In turn, he would take all of the business development rights associated with the property as part of the transfer.

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Oravec then asked if parking in the village was a higher priority than affordable housing. He suggested a parking structure with additional affordable housing.

The property at 81981 Overseas Highway contains a 13,747 square foot building. JIM McCARTHY / Keys Weekly

City Councilor Pete Bacheler said the village property purchases went without a strategic plan or direction.

“All I’m suggesting is that we have to be careful,” he said. “There is an old expression: rich property and money or poor money. There’s no point having goods everywhere if you can’t do something with them.

City Councilor Mark Gregg said he would not support using the village reserve to buy property.

“It has been the policy of the board from day one that we have reserves to accommodate contingencies, primarily a hurricane,” he said. “If we’re going to raid to make this purchase, I wouldn’t support that.”

CFO Maria Bassett suggested the platform let someone else buy the property and take the risk. If it works, she said, the village can look at a public-private partnership.

City Councilor David Webb voiced the idea of ​​a parking garage. He said businesses over the past 20 years have been encouraged to come and grow, but there is no obligation to provide parking.

“It wasn’t until we got Bass Pro and Publix and the big box stores that there were any serious claims of buying land for the purpose of accommodating parking,” he said. . “We can’t go back and say to businesses, ‘You can’t park on easements or neighbors’ front yards because that wasn’t part of the deal. “

Village planning director Ty Harris said he had answered numerous calls to inquire about the property. While researching the site, he said the property will generate significant traffic if it is transformed into another retail store.

“When I received feedback from the community, 1a and 1b are illegal vacation rentals and trafficking,” Harris said.

Harris added that the only failed stretches of road in the Keys are in Islamorada.

“(The traffic studies) use a mixed model and take all of the keys into account, and we’re going around 43-44mph, so you can rearrange yourself,” he said. “If we just used Islamorada, you couldn’t do anything. You would fail in the High Matecumbe and in front of our building.

A regular meeting of the Islamorada village council is still scheduled for July 22 at 5:30 p.m.

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