Citywide Vision for the Future
Marathon is and should remain a family-oriented small town. There is a strong desire to improve the City through the implementation of a central wastewater system, expansion of marine industries, the creation of an eco-tourism based economy, improving the look and feel of US1 and maintaining a unified architectural style with a mix of “Old Florida (Pigeon Key Style)/West Indies” or “Keysy”.
The Unique Environment of the Florida Keys
The City of Marathon is within the boundaries of the Florida Keys as an Area of Critical State Concern. This designation gives the Florida Department of Community Affairs (DCA) oversight with respect to land use decisions. The purpose of the designation is to assure that land and water management policies are developed to improve nearshore water quality as well as provide for well-planned long-term development. The legislation governing the Florida Keys Area of Critical State Concern is Chapter 380.05, Florida Statutes.
In November of 1990, the waters immediately surrounding the Florida Keys were designated as a national marine sanctuary. The Sanctuary begins south of Key Biscayne and extends beyond, but does not include, Dry Tortugas National Park, and ends about 90 miles north of Cuba. Encompassing 9500 square kilometers, the Sanctuary governs the waters of the Atlantic Ocean, the Gulf of Mexico and the imperiled waters of Florida Bay. Figure 1 illustrates the boundaries of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. Authorized by Congress, this Sanctuary was established to manage rising threats to the ecological future of the only living coral reef ecosystem in the United States. The Sanctuary must address numerous challenges to its long-term health. Of note are increasing coral disease and bleaching, over fishing, and damage to coral and sea grass beds from boaters, divers and snorkelers. Due to its location near the shipping lanes; occasionally large vessel groundings dramatically damage coral and sea grass beds. For more information about the Florida Keys Marine Sanctuary, please visit their website at:
Figure 1: Boundaries of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary
Source: Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary
Recognizing the impact of the reduced freshwater flow from Florida Bay on the health of the reef ecosystem, the Army Corps of Engineers plans, as part of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP), to install bridges or culverts at four locations between mile markers 54 and 57 to provide for the restoration of the tidal connection between the Atlantic Ocean and Florida Bay. To learn more about the CERP effort, including details about the Florida Keys Tidal
Restoration Project, visit the CERP website at:
For many years tourists have viewed Marathon as an interim stop on the way to Key West. Its motels and restaurants are typical of older motor lodges and diners found throughout the country. The character and allure of the City is difficult to impress on a visitor speeding by or filling up at the local gas station. As a relatively new City, it is faced with the difficult challenge of determining its blueprint for the future. What is the character of Marathon? What is the ideal Marathon? The Master Plan process has provided the avenue for the City to answer these questions and meet this challenge.