No announcement yet.

Matecumbe (Fla Keys)--Residents want Fire Station

  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Matecumbe (Fla Keys)--Residents want Fire Station

    Lower Matecumbe residents request fire station



    ISLAMORADA -- A majority of the residents of Lower Matecumbe Key have spoken, but they wonder if their pleas will fall on deaf ears.

    They say the number one priority for their community is the construction of a fire station.

    Lower Matecumbe Key Association President Gordon Hadley has been tenacious in his pursuit of a new fire station. He took his legally granted three minutes during the public comment section a recent Islamorada Village Council meeting to once again make his pitch.

    "We want the same services that the rest of the city has. We want the same feeling of security from having [emergency medical technicians] and firefighters in our area,"" Hadley said.

    The councilmen did not pledge money to the project, but several did support the idea. Outgoing Village Manager Charles Baldwin said the idea is an "excellent budget initiative."

    Vice Mayor Mark Gregg called the proposal "long overdue."

    "We need to take steps to further this process," he said.

    The council asked Hadley to work with Fire Chief William Wagner III on the proposal. Hadley said he preferred to work with the village manager or council, because he wants the project handled by someone who has the authority to budget funding and oversee all aspects of the project.

    Lower Matecumbe Key, which extends from Mile Marker 72 to 77, has the slowest response time to emergencies in the village. The village's two fire stations are located on Upper Matecumbe at Mile Marker 81.7 and Plantation Key at Mile Marker 88.

    Lower Matecumbe also ranks among the lowest in residential areas in the amount the village has spent on capital improvement projects.

    Since incorporation, the village has spent $15.6 million in capital improvement projects for Plantation Key, compared to $800,000 for Lower Matecumbe Key.

    A majority of the money spent on capital improvement projects in the village has gone toward Founders Park. The council recently approved a $4 million fire station/village hall project for Founders Park.

    Lower Matecumbe residents feel that their safety is being jeopardized, Hadley said.

    Currently, it can take emergency crews more than five minutes to make it to calls on Lower Matecumbe. Most fire departments use five minutes as a yardstick to measure response time.

    It took fire crews about 12 minutes to respond to a fire that destroyed a home at Mile Marker 75 last year.

    "We have surveyed everyone on the island and they would like to see a fire station built," Hadley said.

    Residents have identified 10 lots that could house a small fire station.

    There are five 70-by-100-foot lots north of the Texaco gas station, four south of the station and one near Safety Harbor, Hadley said. Hadley also proposed buying property and splitting it between a fire station and community center.

    Mayor Chris Sante directed staff to determine if the Land Acquisition Advisory Committee could receive funding for such a project. "There are all kinds of ways to save money," he said.

    Hadley said he was not optimistic that the fire station would be included in next fiscal year's budget.

    [email protected]
    this story published on Mon, Jun 23, 2003
    09-11 .. 343 "All Gave Some..Some Gave ALL" God Bless..R.I.P.
    IACOJ Minister of Southern Comfort
    "Purple Hydrant" Recipient (3 Times)
    BMI Investigator
    The comments, opinions, and positions expressed here are mine. They are expressed respectfully, in the spirit of safety and progress. They do not reflect the opinions or positions of my employer or my department.

  • #2
    They Win

    Lower Matecumbe wins battle for fire station



    ISLAMORADA -- A garrison of Lower Matecumbe residents deployed to the final village budget workshop to jar councilmen's memories.

    Facing ranks of constituents with large stickers plastered across their chests that read "Lower Matecumbe: Forgotten Island," the councilmen concentrated on finding the money to build and staff a fire and EMS station for the district.

    "What you are hearing tonight is the value of local government," said former councilman Ron Levy during public comment at the Sept. 18 meeting. "People want services, whether it's a park, a road or a fire service. Get the work done."

    In the end, the councilmen not only found the funding, but managed to bring down their proposed property tax figure as well -- by electing to seek a loan for $1 million.

    To pay for six full-time personnel and two "floaters" to staff the new station for the final the quarter of the upcoming year, the council took $100,000 of surplus funds and combined it with $50,000 in the general fund that had been set aside for a study on how to get Lower Matecumbe Key's emergency services up and running.

    The council will use $100,000 from the infrastructure fund to leverage a 15-year $1 million loan that will pay for the new station and equipment, including the village hopes, a new fire truck and ambulance. The infrastructure fund, which does not draw its revenue from property taxes, will be used to pay the loan.

    Coming into the final budget workshop, the council had close to a projected $200,000 surplus to work with -- money drawn from a proposed millage tax rate of 2.8 in excess of the cost of funding the items in their budget. Half that surplus went to paying for Lower Matecumbe's personnel for the final quarter of the year. The council cut the other half and brought the millage down to 2.75, which is 7.8 percent above the rollback rate of 2.5505.

    Lower Matecumbe residents argued the matter was a safety issue.

    "Our population is a little older and I think we need proper medical care," said Joe Bodkin. "And I think that can be done without breaking the budget."

    But residents also say they want the reductions in their fire insurance premiums that would come with the increased services. They say they have been "a donor community" that pays taxes out but does not get services back. They complain that the park and village hall were built on the other side of the village, and their roads have not been repaved, despite promises for years.

    Councilmen Bob Johnson led the charge to fund a Lower Matecumbe emergency station at the last budget hearing, but after hours of debate, the council agreed only to fund a study for $150,000.

    While the decision was a victory for Johnson, he objected to taking out a loan to pay for the services, arguing it could be paid for out the village's funds.

    "Why do we have to borrow more money?" he asked.

    But Vice Mayor Mark Gregg and Mayor Chris Sante argued it was good policy to structure long-term financing for projects that provide long-term benefits.

    Also at the meeting, Gregg suggested the village had erred in being so quick to fulfill local gynecologist Sandy Yankow's request for $35,000 for the Good Health Clinic, which will provide secondary and tertiary care for the poor and uninsured in the Upper Keys. For the future, he said, the village should put a line item for health care in the budget, establish criteria and ask for presentations.
    09-11 .. 343 "All Gave Some..Some Gave ALL" God Bless..R.I.P.
    IACOJ Minister of Southern Comfort
    "Purple Hydrant" Recipient (3 Times)
    BMI Investigator
    The comments, opinions, and positions expressed here are mine. They are expressed respectfully, in the spirit of safety and progress. They do not reflect the opinions or positions of my employer or my department.


    300x600 Ad Unit (In-View)


    Upper 300x250