Wiping away a tear or two, Mike Davey chaired his final meeting as Key Biscayne’s mayor Tuesday. He ends back-to-back terms with major bookmarks — a battle over the Ultra Music Festival at the beginning, a multimillion dollar battle against sea level rise, and a pandemic in between. The session ended with a deadlock on a seemingly uncontroversial matter to fight pollution in Biscayne Bay.
“I didn’t think I was gonna cry,” he said as the meeting drew to a close. “It’s been an incredible experience being mayor of this village. “I’m Irish. We cry, we drink, we fight.”
Colleague Allison McCormick reached past the plexiglass COVID barriers on the dais to give a hug; Brett Moss gave him a high-five, while Frank Caplan clapped him on the shoulder. There was even praise from Council Members Ed London and Luis Lauredo, who often cast dissenting votes. Council Member Ignacio Segurola, his term also ending, skipped the last meeting.
The final meeting’s high note? Formal approval of zoning variances for replacing Key Biscayne’s 40-year-old library, a $12 million demolition and construction project county officials say will start in 2024.
But Davey’s final session was also a reminder that the village is at the beginning of several immense public projects that will have their culmination years from now, and may face many rocky debates if Tuesday is any example.
The council deferred action on a $210,000 state-funded pilot program to filter pollutants from stormwater that had been recommended by Chief Resilience Officer Roland Samimy.
Davey supported the projects, which Samimy said were critical to test before the village spends hundreds of millions on anti-flooding pumps and pressurized lines. But Moss objected, raising liability concerns if the technology were to malfunction and cause unexpected flooding backups.
The council deadlocked 3-3, with Lauredo and London joining Moss. Samimy appeared dumbfounded, but Davey, knowing the meeting and his role as mayor was ending, chuckled softly and said “Not my problem.”
The pollution control items will be reset for a future council, along with a number of other issues, ranging from how to manage competing youth sports teams on village playing fields to the cost of landscaping contracts.
“Good luck to all out there running for office. Keep at it,” Davey said as the meeting closed.
Tony Winton is the editor-in-chief of the Key Biscayne Independent and president of Miami Fourth Estate, Inc. He worked previously at The Associated Press for three decades winning multiple Edward R. Murrow awards. He was president of the News Media Guild, a journalism union, for 10 years. Born in Chicago, he is a graduate of Columbia University. His interests are photography and technology, sailing, cooking, and science fiction.