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Peter Frezza Briefs the Board
On Water Quality

09/20/2021

Location of the Culvert on Lower Mat

Mr. Peter Frezza who is the Village of Islamorada’s Environmental Resource Manager gave the Board a very informative presentation on the ongoing canal restoration projects.  

As the Village is in a designated area of critical concern and is in a National Marine Sanctuary, the quality of the waters is closely monitored.  He noted that the reduced level of oxygen in the canals was having a detremental impact on the local offshore and bay waters of the Keys.  Irma was a real setback to these efforts from which the waters of the Keys have not yet fully recovered.

Mr. Frezza described five different technologies for accomplishing this remediation:

    1. Organic Removal
    2. Backfilling
    3. Installing a weed gate
    4. Injections Wells and
    5. Culverts.

The Village has 63 canals/canal systems within its boundaries.  Ours is one.  Fortunately our canal is in pretty good shape.  Unfortunately, the cost associated with fixing what is broken with it is fairly high with the proposed solutions being both installing culverts to improve water flow and to backfill the deeper area of the canals.  The culverts will be the first phase, and we are likely a couple of years away from seeing work beginning on those.   Three questions asked after the briefing:

  1. Is the flow sufficient to prevent silting and blockage of these tunnels?  If not, how will they be kept clear?   The flow does a pretty good job at preventing siltation but over time the culverts likely will begin to accumulate sediment within them.  This we have learned from experience with the few culverts we do have within the village. The sediment can be blown out easily with high-pressure water jets/pumps. 
  2. In the event of a Wilma or Irma, what would the impact of the Gulf/Atlantic culvert be on erosion?  Somehow, I envision the appearance of a “Channel 1” in addition to the existing channels 2 and 5.  I can’t say for sure what the effects would be but it would be my opinion that there would be no negative effects of this culvert from a hurricane event. It might even help alleviate flooding/ storm surge due to increased flow.
  3. On slides 8 and 9 you listed “backfill.”  Can’t tell you how much I like this idea as I know first hand that the visibility in the canals goes to zero below about 8 feet.   Is there an inkling as to when or even if this might happen? Yes, the Village definitely plans to perform some backfill canal restoration projects.  We have it in our upcoming FY 21-22 budget to begin the first one. This likely will be on Plantation Key. 

To see Mr. Frezza’s slides click on the image above, or here.

Visitor or Resident???

09/16/2021

Carlos and Olga Bengochea recently saw an unexpected visitor cruising the canal.  The ripple in the picture is an american crocodile.  While not generally aggressive toward people, as an “apex” predator, anything in the water is potential prey.  One benefit is that the crocodiles hunt sharks, being especially fond of lemon sharks.  As a result, sharks tend to avoid areas inhabited by crocodiles.

These, like manatees which we also have in our canals, are a protected species.  Please keep your speed down in the canals.  And, keep an eye out for children and pets that may wander too close to the water’s edge in your stepdown.

For more info, see the Wikipedia article or the FWC Brochure on crocodiles.

If you have a croc in your yard that is a bother, call 1-866-FWC-GATOR (1-866-392-4286).

Croc in PA Canal

King Tide Alert

09/11/2021

Trucks on Beach
The National Weather Service and Monroe County are alerting Keys residents that we may experience periods of higher than “normal” tides over the next few months.
While we are fortunate that we seldom have flooded streets due to the high tides, some of us with the lower than average step-downs on our docks may see them flood.  You may also want to be sure that your boat/s are raised a bit higher than normal on the lift/s; several inches should do it.
If you go to some places elsewhere in the Keys or Miami, be aware that the water covering the streets may be saltwater that you don’t want to drive through.
For more information, visit the Monroe County website.
And a sincere thank you to Mr. Pedro de Armas for bringing this to my attention!

Port Antigua Kids in Action!

08/21/2021

You may have recently seen Port Antigua Kids In Action at the beach or cul-de-sacs picking up litter and helping spiff up the community.  Created by Cristy Lopez to keep the kids busy doing something positive in Port Antigua, the group has already had several outings.  Developing a sense of responsibility and encouraging kids to give back to the community are some of the goals that Christy hopes to achieve.  Her vision is to expand efforts with the Village of Islamorada and assist in organized environmental clean ups.  Keep an eye out for these growing number of kids making a positive contribution, all thanks to a Port Antigua mom with a vision.  Participants so far have included Chase Sherman, Ricky Lopez, Audley Bosch, Riley Lopez, Emma Lopez, and Alessandra Lopez.

If your young-uns want to join in the fun, Cristy is looking for youths 10 years old and up to help out.  Please send her an email at portantiguakidsinaction@gmail.com.

 

Gate with Guard

Beach Sand Replenishment

08/21/2021

Trucks on Beach

Many owners were attracted to this community by its family-friendly beach with plenty of shade and spectacular sunsets. The waves that constant lap on its shoreline, while usually peaceful and beautiful, do take a toll.  The white sand that feels so good underfoot and looks so nice is constantly being swept out to sea where it migrates further offshore or to other areas of the coast.  To counter this, we periodically replenish the sand that has washed away.  Over the years, this sand has been purchased from Rock and Dirt.  This year, PAPOA Member Ricky Lopez, owner and operator of Rock and Dirt, donated several trucks of sand to replenish the Beach as well as a load of rocks to cover the beach parking lot.  His workers spread the sand and rocks all day on Saturday, August 14th.  It made a huge difference in the general appearance and beauty of our beach.

Thank you, Ricky, for your generous contribution.

Memorial Day Weekend on the Beach

06/05/2021

Over the Memorial Day weekend, the PAPOA hired off-duty Monroe County Sheriff Office (MCSO) deputies to ensure a safe and orderly weekend and to keep trespassers off the beach.   As promised by Mayor Pinder, the Village provided off shore enforcement of the swim zone by assigning an on-duty MCSO Marine Patrol Unit, a.k.a. a deputy in a boat, for a good portion of the weekend.  The PAPOA was not required to reimbuse the cost of this asset.

As reported in the “Swim Zone and Memorial Day Weekend” article below, there was an issue that required law enforcement presence.  A private guard would have had to call the MCSO to handle a drunk and disorderly situation which would have taken time and possibly allowed the problem to escalate.  Having the deputy already on site resulted in the situation quickly and efficently being controled.  We received a complaint that someone was using a key card to let unauthorized people on the beach Sunday morning, before the security was in place, and that people had reserved tiki’s by placing their stuff on the tables long before they showed up.  People need to be considerate and use the tikis for dining and not as a staging area for the day’s activities.  On the positive side, the deputies quickly put a stop to a group trying to access the beach through a vacant lot as well as some underage partiers who were consuming alcohol.

All in all, it was a very safe and pleasant weekend.

 

MCSO Boat off the Beach
Deputies watch the beach

MCSO Deputies O’Neil (l) and Kilmurray (r) keep and eye on the beach
Thank you, Oscar Callejas, for the picture!

The Swim Zone and Memorial Day Weekend

05/29/2021

Gate with Guard
The historically busy Memorial Day Weekend has arrived; the swim zone is in; the number of boats anchored offshore is about a third of what we have seen in the very recent past; and the noise level is down, way down.   While past weekends have seen over three hundred boats, the number of vessels topped out at about a hundred.  Generally, people were behaving…but, not everyone.  There was one arrest for disorderly conduct (I suspect alcoholic beverages were involved), and in a separate incident, a jet-ski operated by a renter/guest of a Port Antigua property owner did test the zone.  The operator was warned and ejected from the area having left the member’s key card with the Deputy.
The feedback I have seen from President Oscar’s email to the membership has been very positive.

Swim Zone in Place

05/29/2021

On May 26, the Village of Islamorada finished installing twenty (20) buoys marking a 300’ foot swim zone from the Port Antigua Beach and White Marlin beaches shoreline.
Mayor Buddy Pinder, Councilman David Webb, and President Oscar were on-site observing the installation.
The swim zone will be patrolled by Monroe County Sheriff Office (MCSO) and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) officers and will prohibit boats entering the area.  At the discretion of law enforcement, violators will be warned, and a $250.00 citation will be issued to boaters who fail or refuse to comply.  The Village Mayor has committed to provide the necessary MCSO resources to better protect our PAPOA Members.  Thank you David Webb for your dedication and commitment to realize this project.

The safety and security of our members is paramount and is embraced by the majority who have seen or experienced the events which led to this solution.

Deputies Kilmurray and Rivas


Thank you, Oscar Callejas, for the picture!

Deputies or Private Security??

05/18/2021

Gate with Guard
MCSO Vendor
Guard  $ 540.00  $    445.44
Head  $      50.00
Tarp  $    150.00
 $ 540.00  $   645.44

This assumes a 12 hour day, with fixed costs of a head for $50 and a tent for $150

One suggestion that several members made for taking back control of our Beach was hiring private security guards.  President Oscar, also the Chair of the Security Committee, recently worked on getting a contract for a one (1) year pilot program to do that.  Unfortunately, the proposal he received did not meet the needs of the PAPOA.

The contract would have been “sole source.”  In other words, there was only a single vendor who was willing to provide the service.  The rates quoted to the members who  initially suggested this option were for business hours.  Since the Association needs the service on weekends and holidays, overtime rates applied.  When this was taken in account with a requirement for the PAPOA to provide shade (a canopy) and head facilities, along with a release from any liability that may be incurred by the guard, it was clear that the current Monroe County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) off-duty deputies is a better option.

The Guard would be required to remain at his/her post to ensure the security of the gate.  Should an issue arise they are not able to handle, they would call the MCSO.

Annual Meeting

04/17/2021

The returns are in, and a hearty congratulations to Dave Webb, Martin Pico, Oscar Callejas, Otto Ortega!  And a sincere thank you to all who volunteered to serve on the Board and our community by submitting their names for the ballot.

The votes were counted by Judy Winstel, Michelle Bianchi, Adele West and Hermine Zavar.  Moe Zavar  generously offered to participate in the count but was let off the hook as our by-laws require only four committee members.  Thank you to everyone for your time and effort.

You can see the vote count here (two pages).

 

During our program at the meeting, Sheriff Ramsey introduced Islamorada’s new Captain, Derek Paul, who has deep roots in the Keys, as well as Sergeant Johnson who is a frequent and welcome visitor to the Port Antigua neighborhood.  Sheriff Ramsey spoke about a wide range of interesting topics, from Trauma Star, to crime in the neighborhood (or the lack thereof), to the benefits of community policing.  We are fortunate to have Sheriff Ramsey, Captain Paul, Sergeant Johnson and the rest of the MCSO.  They truly “have our backs.”

In the Board of Directors Organizational meeting, President Oscar will be serving another term, as will Vice President Otto and Secretary Caren.  Rita will become the chair of the Finance Committee and Esther will take over the job of Treasurer.  Leo Cornide will be taking over the Maintenance Chair from Bill Hardy, and a sincere thank you goes to Bill for the work he has done in that job.

Thank you to all the Board Members and the other volunteers who serve.  It is you who make Port Antigua a great place to live, work and play.

Annual Meeting

A few attendee at the Annual Meeting
(l to r) Mari, Rita, and Esther (seated)
Martin, Caren, Rod, Otto, Ray, Oscar, Captain Paul,
Sgt Johnson, and Sheriff Ramsey (standing)

“Kill Switches” must be used!

04/15/2021

cut-off lanyard

A new federal law went into effect on April 1st, no foolin’.   Basically, the operator of any boat less than 26 feet long must use the installed engine cut-off switch while operating their boat.  This means clipping the end of the lanyard to the operators “person.”  There are certain exceptions, like when operating at idle or if the boat was manufactured before January 2020 and does not have a switch installed.  If there is a working switch, the operator MUST use it.

For more information, see the CG news release.  They have a list of FAQ’s that will answer most of your questions.

 

Correspondence from PAPOA

03/31/2021

We have had some complaints and confusion about emails that members have received from an address that has “portantguahomeowners” in it.  Some thought it was official email from the Association.  It was not.

You can tell it is our email by the domain from which it was sent: “portantigua.net.”  For example, you will get email from “info@portantigua.net” which is our official, doing business with you email.  Other addresses you may or may not see are “president@portantigua.net,” “vp@portantigua.net,” “secretary@portantigua.net,” and so on.  Of course, you have received email from “news@portantigua.net” which I use to send you newsletters and other (hopefully useful) information.

Some Board Members insist on using their personal emails for Assocation business – and since we are a volunteer organization, that cannot be helped.  If you get an email and have any questions of its authenticity, please email us!  You can use info@portantigua.net (or one of the other emails above).  A list of our emails is on the About Page of this website.

Picture of letter to FDEP
The terms of the agreement call for Redland Security Investigations to station a uniformed security officer at the Beach entrance on Saturdays and Sundays with the intent of keeping trespassers from gaining entrance.  On the busier weekends, an additional guard will look for fence jumpers.  They will be unarmed, prohibited from getting into physical confrontations with trespassers, and call the MCSO to eject or arrest uncooperative or belligerent people.  This contract will supplement our MCSO deputies on the busiest holidays.

As you can imagine, this contract is expensive.  Oscar checked with several vendors and determined that Redland will give us the best return for the price.  They intend to use local residents for their work to keep the travel costs down as well as to reduce potential absenteeism due to busy weekend traffic patterns here in the Keys.

Since the “Swim Zone” off the Beach is a Village project over which the PAPOA has no control, this will have no impact on that initiative.  We expect to see the zone in place some time this summer.  We hope to have our new security contractor on board by then as well.

 

Be Sure They Can Get to You
(or Us)

The reason for the emergency gate to the Beach was made abundantly clear recently.  In less than two weeks, emergency personnel had to gain access to our beach twice.  In the first incident, FWC cut the lock to gain access while responding to the tragic boating death up at Bowlegs Cut.  In the second, a person on the beach went into anaphylactic shock and had to be treated and later taken to the hospital by EMT.

If you see someone blocking the gate, PLEASE ask them to move!  And, golf carts are not allowed to park there either!

Golf Carts & The Village & Port Antigua

At the most recent Council Meeting which was attended by President Dave and Board Members Esther and Caren, Vice Mayor Mike Forster said that some residents in the Village want to expand Port Antigua’s unique golf cart privilege Village-wide.  The proposal was not met with unanimous approval, in fact some of the problems that we have faced regarding the operation of the carts, e.g. under-aged, unlicensed drivers, overloading, and even “street skiing,” were brought up.  Among the issues that were discussed were enforcing the laws using Code Enforcement or hiring private security companies and the use of the carts on the bike paths adjacent to US-1.  It is unclear how this will affect Port Antigua; there may be additional restrictions imposed on carts, increased enforcement of the regulations, or nothing. Please be sure you are familiar with and obey the Village requirements for the use of golf carts on our streets.  They may be found in the Frequently Asked Questions on the “About PAPOA” page.  For your convenience, you may see a summary here.

DON’T GET TOWED!!!

There are two places people need to be careful about parking at the beach.  First – in front of the emergency  entrance gate to the beach, and second  – trailer parking in the beach lot.  While trailers are allowed to be left in the small ramp lot for not more than 30 minutes, they are not to be left in the main lot.   People who violate these restrictions may have their vehicles towed – and getting the car/truck/golf cart/trailer back isn’t cheap.

There are good reasons for these rules.  Parking is limited and trailers take up lots of space.  More importantly, the emergency entrance is used by paramedics to get to people who need help.  There are two signs on the gate clearly stating that it is a tow away zone.  PLEASE DON’T park there!

Truck in no parking zone

What’s wrong with this picture??

On occasion, you may notice a vehicle blocking the gate, like the black pickup truck that was there on the labor day weekend.  A board member checked and found that the vehicle was an unmarked MCSO truck whose owner was very, very close by.  He had parked there so as not to take up a valuable parking space.  Had that not been the case, this vehicle would have been towed.  And as an aside, PAPOA DOES NOT receive any money when a vehicle is towed.

“One man’s trash is
another man’s treasure…”

But nobody (okay, almost nobody) likes to see all these “treasures” left on the curb for more than a couple of days!  The amount of rubbish on the side of the street has grown over the past few months, creating  eyesores and potential road hazards.  While we understand the need to get rid of stuff and have put items on the street ourselves, remember, Advanced Disposal will not pick it up unless they are called – and even then they have five days to pick it up.  Please, call Advanced (305-853-3433) sooner rather than later.  There is no fee for household items like appliances, furniture, even rolled carpeting.  Fees do apply for construction debris, automotive debris and bulk vegetative waste.