Multiple Agencies and Elected Officials Meet
to Address Solutions for the Fills
The anticipated multi-agency meeting to address the Fills was held on Friday, June 21st at the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office Roth Building on Plantation Key. Multiple agencies including the Florida Department of Transportation, the Florida Fish and Wildlife, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, the National Park Service and the Florida Highway Patrol as well as Lieutenant Governor of Florida Jeanette Nunez, State Attorney Dennis Ward and District Director Sarah Craven from State Representative Holly Raschein’s participated in the meeting.
Organized by Monroe County Sheriff Rick Ramsay, the group came together in the spirit of cooperation to discuss the overuse of the Fills, the roadway and adjacent land along US 1 connecting Upper Matecumbe and Lower Matecumbe Keys, approximately Mile Marker 77.5 to 79.8.
Sheriff Ramsay began the meeting with an acknowledgement that the Fills cannot be closed to the public and stated his priorities: reducing the speed limit to 45mph, creating a no left turn and no passing zone through the area and Islamorada providing porta potties and additional dumpsters to address the issues. Islamorada Mayor Deb Gillis added that safety, parking, sanitation, trash and shoreline stabilization must be addressed.
During the meeting, Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) District 6 Secretary James Wolfe made several commitments to improve safety along the Fills. The FDOT will install barriers at the eroded section of the bike path on the oceanside of Lignumvitae Key near the south end of the Fills, install rumble strips in the center lane along the entire length and complete a study within 90 days to determine whether a reduction to a 45 mph speed limit and no passing zone should be implemented. Secretary Wolfe also confirmed that the FDOT would consider leasing the land to Islamorada and would install no parking signs at locations to be designated in a detailed plan for the area. The detailed plan would need to be provided by the Village with the lease application.
Islamorada Mayor Deb Gillis was accompanied by the Village Manager, Village Attorney and Public Works Director. Mayor Gillis committed to increasing the number of trash receptacles and dumpsters and providing porta potties during the remaining holidays this season - the July 4th weekend, lobster mini season and Labor Day weekend. Sheriff Ramsay reported that he will increase law enforcement presence during the same holiday periods.Mayor Gillis said, “We appreciate that Sheriff Ramsay was able to gather all the agencies and elected officials to address this problem that is affecting our entire community. I believe we are beginning a process to create a plan for the Fills that can provide safe enjoyment while addressing environmental concerns.”