Saturday, April 6, 2013

City extends bridge kiosk permit

BY PATTI LAVELL Free Press Contributor
MARATHON — The Marathon City Council voted unanimously last week to extend Friends of Old Seven’s kiosk permit for another year.

The non-profit group obtained a permit from the city last year to place the information booth at the entrance to the historic bridge. Members of the group staff the kiosk, handing out leaflets and answering questions.

The group collects approximately $10,000 per month in donations and, after paying overhead costs, is left with about $2,000 for community outreach.

A representative from the group told the City Council that an economic impact study, funded in part by the city, should be ready for review in a couple of weeks. The study analyzed the financial benefits the community could reap if the old Seven Mile Bridge is repaired and restored.

Two weeks ago, the Monroe County Commission gave staff approval to investigate the possibility of restoring the old bridge. The Florida Department of Transportation has agreed to pay for half the cost — estimated at $18 million — if the county takes over maintenance of the structure. According to County Administrator Roman Gastesi, annual maintenance would run about $70,000 and painting the bridge every 10 years would cost $3.5 million.