City to consider regulating leaf blowers

BY SCOTT UNGER Citizen Staff

Although no items are scheduled for discussion at Tuesday’s Key West City Commission meeting, the board will vote on construction projects, grant funding and possible regulations on the use of leaf blowers.

At the direction of the Key West Sustainability Board, city staff prepared a leaf blower research report that studied issues relating to greenhouse gas emissions and water quality, health and noise problems associated with blowers.

Potential regulations include phasing out gas powered blowers for residential use and two-stroke engine blowers for commercial use and establishing operational hours for blower use in residential neighborhoods to limit noise, according to city documents.

The report recommends an interdepartmental committee draft an ordinance regulating the use of leaf blowers within city limits to be presented to the commission at a later date.

The board will also vote on a $217,960 construction project to open Angela Street access to Truman Waterfront Park.

If approved, a portion of the former Keys Energy property (which is in the process of being transferred to the city) will be used to create an 11-foot-wide paved road and an adjoining 5-foot-wide reinforced sidewalk, according to City Engineer Gary Volenec.

“Construction of the Angela Street Access will provide Bahama Village with direct pedestrian (and) bicycle access to the Truman Waterfront Park. The access will also provide for personal vehicle egress and facilitate emergency vehicle ingress and egress,” the executive summary states.

A pair of funding partnerships will also be up for approval.

An agreement between the city and the Florida Department of Transportation will provide $15,000 in matching funding for the Keep America Beautiful Local Affiliates Program. The Keep Key West Beautiful project will provide trash bags, signs and gloves for cleanup efforts as well as local advertising aimed at encouraging residents to volunteer for clean-up activities, according to city documents.

Another matching grant with the National Endowment for the Arts will provide $75,000 to support art installations and the art master plan at Truman Waterfront Park, if approved.

The Our Town grant will partner the nonprofit Studios of Key West with city staff, the Art in Public Places board and Truman Waterfront Advisory board to plan and install public art at the park and hold eco-art workshops and demonstration projects at the park.

The city’s matching funds will be comprised of $50,000 from the AIPP public art fund, with the remaining funds attributed to staff and volunteer hours, according to the proposal.

The board will also honor retiring city employees Norman Whitaker, who has served as Director of Transportation since 2013, and Terrence Richardson, who has been a Building Department Inspector since 2003.