Local

Foster: Parking fee possible for Indian Key Fill

Anglers cast a line from shore at Indian Key Fill in Islamorada. Improvements are needed for the popular area but funding is lacking.
Anglers cast a line from shore at Indian Key Fill in Islamorada. Improvements are needed for the popular area but funding is lacking. Keynoter

Progress on improvements to the scenic Indian Key Fill come slowly, but Islamorada officials continue to press for permits and funding.

Those added amenities eventually could include designated parking areas, restrooms, on-site management and a boat ramp with dock, Islamorada Village Councilman Mike Forster says.

But those improvements — as yet unfunded and unscheduled — could come with costs for parking and a limit on maximum occupancy.

“I love seeing people enjoying Indian Key Fill. It’s what the beautiful Florida Keys are all about,” Forster said Friday. “I believe every Floridian has a right to enjoy the use of the Atlantic and Florida Bay. It’s about inclusion, not exclusion.”

“But that doesn’t mean we want to desecrate the Fill, either,” Forster said. “There are times when it’s way over its carrying capacity, and the garbage situation is terrible. We have to maintain some semblance of order.”

Forster said he is continuing to work on plans with state agencies including the Department of Transportation and Department of Environmental Protection to secure permits and funding for a safe and paved parking area for cars and boat trailers. Ownership of the narrow strip of land and bridges that link Upper Matecumbe Key to Lower Matecumbe falls under multiple jurisdictions.

Forster said he believes state agencies can be persuaded to approve a 40-foot dock for launching boats, but no funds have been appropriated.

In addition to state grants and tourism-taxes, funding could result in some type of fees to move the improvements forward, he said. “We live in a different world now,” Forster said. “If you go to Key West, you wind up paying $12 for parking and you don’t think about it. That’s just how it is.”

Without some improvements that include capacity limitations, Forster said, much of Indian Key Fill could wind up being closed to parking. Similar situations have occurred at Card Sound Road.

The next projects slated for Indian Key Fill — which also takes in Lignumvitae Key Fill and Tea Table Relief — are for landscaping in 2018 and possible shoreline-stabilization work.

Kevin Wadlow: 305-440-3206

  Comments