The Village of Islamorada is the latest local government agency to join in a lawsuit against Florida Power & Light regarding a hypersaline plume from the Turkey Point Nuclear Power Plant threatening the Florida Keys drinking water supply.

At the request of Monroe County, the Village Council agreed to allocate $15,000 toward the lawsuit against FPL for the continued use of cooling canals at the plant, which have been shown to contribute to hypersalinity of nearshore waters.

The Florida Keys Aqueduct Authority and the county government have been vocal in the past several years about calling for an end to the cooling canal system, despite FPL working on reducing the plume threatening the Biscayne Aquifer, the Keys drinking water supply.

The county asked each Keys municipality to join the legal action, and the Village Council agreed that it should join the fight.

In another move to enhance water quality and Lower Matecumbe Key residents’ usage of residential canals, the council approved a canal sediment removal contract with ATL Diversified Inc. for five Lower Matecumbe canals. Expenditures will be submitted to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection for reimbursement with Stewardship Act Grant funds.

“The village has approximately $1.5 million remaining in these funds for canal debris and sediment removal and monitoring activities,” said Peter Frezza, environmental resources manager.

Twelve bids were received during the request for proposals.

Frezza also presented an agreement with CPH, Inc. for a Green Turtle Hammock conceptual design, which garnered approval. Staff and land acquisition advisory committee volunteers worked with the Florida Communities Trust to obtain a grant through a competitive process to acquire the Green Turtle Hammock property in 2006. The acquisition required a plan for eco-friendly development for residents’ enjoyment.

The land at Mile Marker 81 Bayside is named Green Turtle Hammock because the property originally belonged to Henry Rosenthal, who also owned the Green Turtle Restaurant in the 1990s and prior. The first phase for development of the new recreational amenities at “GTH” was demolition of the main residence on the property, in which Betty Rosenthal lived when the property was acquired. Demolition was completed in March 2020 at a cost of $25,000.

Components of the design plan are adjacent to Florida Bay and include an American Disabilities Act-compliant kayak launch, an ADA-compliant dock, improved access from the upland area to the waterfront, a waterfront pavilion/observation tower, a restroom and an improved parking area. At a cost not to exceed $55,000, CPH will provide required surveys and environmental study for future permitting, as well as conceptual civil site design and architectural rendering.

Fire Chief Terry Abel presented a committee’s recommendation to continue to contract with Dr. Sandra Schwemmer as medical director. Schwemmer has been the village medical director since 2001. She received higher marks than the lowest bidder who offered services for $6,600 less.

The contract says, “The annual fee for services… is $54,600... The proposed new agreement reflects an increase in cost of medical director services of 28.17% from… 2019-2020. The new annual fee is subject to a 5.0% increase each contract renewal period.” Abel said he knows Schemmer’s firm “to be knowledgeable, competent, reliable and effective.”

The council also approved state lobbying services with two firms, GrayRobinson at $48,000 for the year, and Peebles, Smith and Matthews at a cost of $75,000. The village attorney is paid an annual stipend of $30,000, in addition to his salary, to work with these state lobbyists as well as contracted federal lobbyists