Jul 222016
Monroe County is trying to purchase an 8-acre property on Stock Island to preserve as working waterfront for commercial fishermen, who need a place to dock their boats and store traps. Photo by Josh Nicklaus.

Monroe County is trying to purchase an 8-acre property on Stock Island to preserve as working waterfront for commercial fishermen, who need a place to dock their boats and store traps. Photo by Josh Nicklaus.


MARTAHON – To help preserve precious working waterfront in the Florida Keys, the Monroe County Board of County Commissioners unanimously approved partnering with the Florida Communities Trust to purchase an 8-acre property, formerly known as “Gulf Seafood,” on Stock Island.

The County earmarked $5 million in sales tax revenue more than a year ago for the property at 6021 Peninsula Avenue. At its recent meeting, the BOCC voted to accept a $2.29 million Stan Mayfield Working Waterfront Grant to help fund the expected $7 million purchase price. The grant is awarded by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection through its Florida Communities Trust.

“The purchase of this valuable property will forever preserve it as working waterfront specifically for our commercial fishermen,” said Lisa Tennyson, Monroe County’s Director of Legislative Affairs.

William Roche, a fourth-generation commercial fishermen whose family in the Keys dates to the early 1900s, told the Commission he has watched developers convert many of the docks once used by commercial fishermen into marinas and other development. To help ensure that commercial fishing and its culture continue for the next generation, Roche said it’s “imperative” to protect the working waterfront that remains.

Bill Kelly, Executive Director of the Florida Keys Commercial Fishermen’s Association, told the Commission that the Keys commercial fishermen catch about $135 million worth of salt water marine life annually. Longtime commercial fishermen George Niles, who began running his own boat at age 14, added that the Keys four primary fisheries – yellowtail, spiny lobster, stone crab and king mackerel – are all healthy and thriving.

But in order for commercial fishermen to continue to catch fish and contribute to the economy, they need working waterfront for storing their traps and keeping their boats docked. The Gulf Seafood property can accommodate about 30 to 40 boats and store about 100,000 traps for spiny lobster and stone crabs.

“This is not without precedent,” Kelly said. “Hundreds of municipalities around the nation have made this investment [in working waterfront] to protect their economies. With commercial fishing being the second largest economic engine in the Keys, this [purchase] is vital.”

The commercial fishermen in attendance at the meeting all clapped when the Commission approved moving forward on the project.
Accepting the Mayfield grant was the first official step. It allows the state to begin the process of buying the property from its private owner. If all goes well, the state will present a final purchase agreement to the County to approve. If purchased, the state will deed the property to the County, which will develop a management plan. This process is estimated to take 9 to 12 months to complete.

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 July 22, 2016  Posted by at 12:36 am Issue #176, News, Public Notice  Add comments

  2 Responses to “BOCC Pursuing Stock Island Property for Working Waterfront”

  1. It’s easy to see when the Florida Keys real estate market is at its peak and getting ready to crash. That is the exact time when the county decides to buy property at inflated prices.

  2. “This is not without precedent,”

    Just a thought – no sidewalk for sight seers because it is a commercial loading area,
    12 fishermen are saved to do their living and everything in this area all around is now private docks or hotels??? Forgot a Seaplane terminal for 4 to 6 aircraft is being install as we talk.

    This land is connected to prime land with a trailer park… let us dream in five years or two years the fishing closes down and a big hotel with no public access, is this possible? YES – our tax money is use for the good of others.
    As the song goes “Blinded by the Light…oops Money”

    Does anyone remember that aviation would not allow a hotel on STOCK ISLAND for it would interfere with flight traffic? Now look what is being built.

    God I love this county.

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