Concerns from on-shore residents seem to have scuttled Monroe County’s preferred site for a new Upper Keys mooring field. “There is no Plan B,” County Mayor Sylvia Murphy said Tuesday.
In March, county commissioners named Key Largo’s Buttonwood Sound, off the bayside at mile marker 99, as the anchorage most suitable to accommodate a new mooring field for liveaboard residents and cruising visitors. But two nearby businesses that had expressed interest in serving as a land base for the Buttonwood Sound mooring field have now decided against it.
“The owners of Point of View Key Largo RV Resort on Buttonwood Sound cannot support a Buttonwood Sound mooring field,” operator Jim Saunders wrote to the Island of Key Largo Federation of Homeowner Associations.
The RV park’s “experience with those who are mooring in that area now has been very problematic,” Saunders wrote in July. “We have persons living on boats coming into the common restrooms at all times, and those who have ‘trashed’ the facilities.”
“We have been forced to install security cameras and night-time security guards,” he continued. “I don’t mean to suggest all of the liveaboards are bad people, but our experience has been bad.”
Many of the park’s neighbors “were adamantly opposed to the mooring field,” Saunders said. “This is sad, as we once felt some managed moorings might be feasible. That is no longer the case.”
A mooring field charges rent to use a permanent mooring structure rather than let boaters set their own anchors that could damage seagrass and other environmental features. The best sites for mooring fields are near shopping and other amenities.
At a July 9 information meeting hosted by the homeowners’ federation, about 100 people turned out to voice concerns, said group President Dottie Moses.
“We asked for a show of hands of who supported the mooring field,” Moses said. “There were no hands.”
The federation did not take a formal position on the mooring field, Moses said.
In March, a county consultant described three areas that could be suitable for new mooring fields. The water body generally considered in dire need of a managed mooring field, Boca Chica Basin in the Lower Keys, suffers from a lack of any upland property willing to serve as a land base.
Buttonwood Sound, which the consultants described as having the potential to provide moorings for up to 100 vessels, then was selected as the site most suitable.
County Marine Resources staffers were told to begin seeking state Department of Environmental Protection approval and a submerged-bottom lease in Buttonwood Sound. The state could have objected to mooring boats over the sound’s expanses of healthy seagrass, staff pointed out.
Without a suitable Buttonwood Sound property capable of providing a dinghy dock and bathhouse facilities, the project appears to be dead in the water, Murphy said.
The topic could be revisited at the County Commission’s Aug. 20 meeting in Key Largo, she said.
“It looks like we have to undo what we did previously,” she said.
A possible site near Key Largo’s Jewfish Creek was largely dismissed because suitable locations with adequate water depth could fit only a handful of mooring sites, consultants said.
Courtesy of www.keysnet.com