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News and Happenings

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Cul-de sac Renovations

08/31/22  

CulDeSac before and after

The long awaited takeover of the Port Antigua cul-de-sacs has begun.  Beginning with Costa Bravo, the Village Public Works staff has been diligently replacing the non-native plants with low maintenance ones.  The rocks bordering the spaces have been relocated to the beach where they will be placed to enhance those areas.

The Village staff, especially Public Works Director  A.J. Engelmeyer, worked very closely with the PAPOA maintenance team.  A special thanks to Esther Merida who initiated the project and to Caren Brinson who prepared the site plan for the Village.  Rita Klopf and Oscar Callejas were also insturmental in giving input and making suggestions for the project.  Thank you!

Many of the shrubs had to be ordered from out of the area (upstate) which accounted for the delay.  The remaining cul-de-sacs will be completed as the plants arrive, and the Village can fit the work into the schedule.

Power Poles Moving

9/11/2022
Florida Keys Electric Cooperative (FKEC) recently sent out an email saying they are beginning to work on moving the poles from the south side of US-1 to the north side.   The work will be done along Sea Oats Beach where some of the poles are located in the water.  This will impact us only slightly as there should be no long road closures – and no long power outages.   They have already started the landscape work.  For more information, visit the FKEC news release.

Memorial Day 2022

05/29/2022

A postcard perfect Saturday with lots of sun and gentle breezes made for a great day at the Port Antigua beach.  Sunday and Monday, not so much, but still nice.

The new picnic tables seemed to be popular and the shallow water of the swim zone, inviting.

Welcome Sign

2022 Annual Meeting

05/14/22  

Pres Oscar works at the Annual Meeting

The Meeting

Pres Oscar works at the Annual Meeting

Pres Oscar joined by Sheriff Ramsey, Lt. Kellenberger, Capt. Paul, VP Otto, Sgt Johnson, and Sgt O’Keefe at the meeting

The rain and wind were considerate enough to let up just in time for the start of the Annual meeting on April 23rd.  Held behind VP Otto’s house, a couple of non-board members showed up while a handful more took advantage of the Zoom® venue to join in.

Sheriff Ramsey and several of his deputies addressed the assemblage.  The Sheriff made a point of the good relationship between the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office and the PAPOA.  He also talked about the low crime rate in the county and how that is directly related to both the cooperation they have with the community as well as people in the neighborhoods observing and reporting suspicious activities.  One of the fallouts of having a low crime rate is that people feel safe enough to leave their cars, boats and homes unlocked.  Unfortunately, this creates a situation that fosters crimes of opportunity that would not happen had the property been properly secured.  He also said scams are a real problem.  Residents and visitors should be aware that the Sheriff’s Office, the IRS, or other “officials” will not call demanding fines or fees to be paid in gift cards to avoid arrest.  That is NOT the way they do business, and it is certainly a scam.

The results of the election are that Rita, Linda, and Rod will be returning to the Board for another three-year term.  Thank you to Lee Rameriz and Robert Castro for volunteering to join the Board.  There is plenty to do at the PAPOA and help is always welcome.

At the organizational meeting following the Annual Meeting, the Officers were unchanged: Oscar as Pres, Otto as VP, Rita as Treas, and Caren as Sec.  The committee assignments are posted on the About page of this website.

Ballot Tally – Done!

04/22/2022

Six dedicated and good natured ladies attended the annual ballot counting meeting to be sure the votes of the membership were correctly totaled so the new year’s Board could be seated at the Membership Meeting on April 23rd.
Despite our Manager, Mari Joiner, being ill and unable to attend in person, she was able to provide her expertise and counsel via Zoom.

A heartfelt thank you to Michelle Bianchi, Johanna Czerny, Judy Winstel, and Adele West for opening the envelopes and counting the ballots.  Once again, they came through when volunteered.  Thank you also to Treasurer Rita Klopf for setting up the computer at the Library and of course to Secretary Caren Brinson for organizing and chairing the meeting.

Finally, we do appreciate the Islamorada Library allowing us to use their room for the meeting.

Ballot Meeting

Counting partners Michelle and Judy and Adele and Johanna get ready to rip into the ballot envelopes while Caren and Rita look on. 

See the voting results on the member’s page

Coming Soon to a Swim Zone
Near YOU

03/31/22

Location of the Culvert on Lower Mat

Village Councilman Dave Webb recently told me that the Village was going to replace the buoys in the Swim Zone off the Port Antigua Beach.

Mr. Peter Frezza of the Village said that Poseidon Marine Towing (the Village’s contractor) will be replacing the old style buoys as they are damaged or stolen with a new and improved version.  The style the Village originally used is no longer available.  This is a much better buoy, it floats more upright but is slightly more expensive.

While the Village would like to have the job done all at once, inventory shortages and the cost of the new buoys makes that impossible.  But Mr. Frezza said that they expect all the buoys to have been replaced by the end of the summer.

I appreciate Mr. Webb, Mr. Frezza and Mr. Engelmeyer’s inputs on this.

(Mr. Frezza provided the picture)

Fish Carcasses, Again. Really???

02/22/2022

It must have been a  nice, three day weekend.  I can always count on those for complaints (rightly so) of fish carcasses floating in the canals.  These two were pulled out of one of our canals on the 21st of February.

While we are thrilled that someone is catching fish, throwing them in the canal is wrong.  It attracts freeloading predators (bull sharks and crocs), robs the canals of oxygen for the fish that do live there, and after a couple of days, the carcasses float and stink up the place.  And, it’s against the law.

If you have renters, please explain that fish carcasses should be frozen and thrown in the trash.  Your neighbors would really appreaciate not having to “fish” them out of the canal and having to deal with their smell.

Fish Carcasses

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 one of the FWC Brochures on crocodiles:  Guide to Living with Crocodiles #1  Guide to Living with Crocodiles #2

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

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.

“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.