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The safety of aging condominium buildings poses a l threat to the future of Key Biscayne, Village Manager Steve Williamson told council members Thursday at a strategy meeting for the upcoming budget. 

“As you look at the condominiums, they’re all coming up on their 30, 40, 50-year certifications and the impact that has on the financial perspective, insurance perspective, which then all comes back to impact on the taxes as well,” Williamson said.

In the wake of the Surfside collapse, condo buildings 25 years or older must undergo milestone inspections required by Miami-Dade County and the state. This has resulted in repairs and significant assessment for residents.

Council Member Frank Caplan makes a point dring a strategic planning session, May 9, 2024. The session starts the process of budget priorities for the 2025 fiscal year (KBI Photo/Tony Winton)

“I spend a lot of time talking to condo residents and they’re facing a lot of financial pressure,” Williamson said.

Council Member Frank Caplan said the Village can have a role, especially if a large segment of the population is at risk. “So what can we do about these things? Something in the code compliance area, for example,” he said.

“Making sure the standards are met,” Williamson added. 

Williamson and the staff briefed the Council on the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats for the VIllage as it heads into budget season in preparation for the June 25 budget workshop. 

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Traffic issues took up three of the four top concerns in a recent resident survey. Williamson said the Village will make its voice heard on the Rickenbacker Causeway master plan and explore solutions to event traffic on Virginia Key.

Mayor Joe Rasco asked that the playing field at St. Agnes Catholic Church be addressed. The Village leases the field from the church.

“I think we should be really embarrassed about how we’re keeping that St. Agnes Field. We just have to do a much better job,” Rasco said. 

Key Bicayne Mayor Joe Rasco reviews a briefing book at a strategic planning session, May 9, 2024. The session starts the process of budget priorities for the 2025 fiscal year (KBI Photo/Tony Winton)

Parks Director Todd Hofferberth said replacing the sod is not an option because of overuse.

He said an artificial turf option suitable for soccer, rugby and field hockey is the best option. He said a request for proposals would yield estimates for such a project. A $1.2 million plan to upgrade the fields was dropped from the last budget to help soften a property tax increase.

Police Chief Frank Sousa also proposed a speed light camera — similar to a red light camera — that would be placed between St. Agnes and Crossbridge Church to catch motorists violating the school zone speed limit of 15 mph.

He said a traffic study of the road recorded speeds up to 45 mph.

Rasco also asked Williamson to pursue “barrier reefs” to protect the beaches.  “If we don’t do something like that, we’re going to bankrupt ourselves because we can’t afford to have the November and December storms forcing us to renourish the beach,” he said.

Chief Resilience Officer Roland Samimy said artificial reefs or structures, whether placed on the bay or oceanside, are tricky to get the necessary permits from the county’s Department of Environmental Resource Management. He said the reefs could harm sea grasses, essential to larval fish and other sea life.

“DERM doesn’t really know how to handle the fact that you’re impacting seagrass habitat, but you’re also creating ecological enhancement. So what’s the net impact?” Samimy said.

JOHN PACENTI is the executive editor of the Key Biscayne Independent. John has worked for The Associated Press, the Palm Beach Post, Daily Business Review, and WPTV-TV.

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JOHN PACENTI is the executive editor of the Key Biscayne Independent. John has worked for The Associated Press, the Palm Beach Post, Daily Business Review, and WPTV-TV.