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Freebee makes use of Tesla autos within the village. CONTRIBUTED

Islamorada council members pulled a pair of resolutions associated to an enlargement of ridesharing within the village via Freebee at a Sept. 7 assembly at Founders Park Group Heart. 

In Might 2022, a earlier council directed village workers to hunt a state grant for a potential extension of Freebee rides from early morning to late at evening seven days per week. The present council is pumping the brakes on an enlargement, nevertheless. The choice got here as a group survey spearheaded by Vice Mayor Sharon Mahoney seeks enter from native residents on the service, which started in 2018 as a pilot undertaking. Freebee began out transporting locals and guests via two electrical golf carts. 

Service was restricted to Higher Matecumbe Key for the reason that carts couldn’t traverse bridges. By 2019, Freebee launched two vans to the fleet. Service hours elevated from 37 hours per week throughout a pilot undertaking to 70 hours per week in 2019. Freebee presently makes use of Tesla X autos, which maintain seven passengers, and one van. Underneath the brand new proposal, all three would function seven days per week from 7 a.m. to midnight, increasing the operation to 210 hours per week. Earlier within the 12 months, the village utilized for and obtained phrase {that a} grant award totaling $276,665 could be out there via the Florida Division of Transportation to subsidize the enlargement. 

Mahoney addressed rumors circulating all through the village that she was making an attempt to do away with Freebee. She stated she isn’t looking for to remove the service.

“I like the rumors on this city,” Mahoney stated. She advised the dais defer the choice 60 days to permit for a committee to look at and decide the extent of service wanted from Freebee. She additionally sought a workshop to collect enter from residents on methods to enhance transit within the village. 

“We’re attempting to make it price efficient and higher for everyone,” she stated. 

In complete, annual prices for 3 Freebee autos working seven days per week would complete round $553,000. With a state grant offering 50% of the funding, the village would pay $276,665. Per a workers memo, prices incurred by the village would lower by $65,839. Freebee companies are presently supplied at an annual price of $342,504, which is paid in 12 funds of $28,542. 

Freebee stated its service has transported greater than 130,000 locals and guests since coming to the village greater than 4 years in the past. Of the riders utilizing the service, Freebee stated, 63% are locals and 37% are vacationers. Ridership has elevated all through the years, from 21,284 in 2020 to 50,262 in 2023. 

Geoffrey Campbell, native captain, took to the rostrum to voice his assist for Freebee. He stated the service not solely is a protected technique of transportation, but in addition an environmentally-friendly choice for locals needing a trip to work or guests requesting pickup from their lodges to go to eating places and different companies. 

“Freebee doesn’t must be slowed or shut, it ought to be expanded,” he stated. 

Councilman Mark Gregg advised the council settle for the grant and have a look at altering Freebee’s service, if wanted, at a later date.

“If now we have already form of subconsciously stated we like Freebee and wish to transfer ahead, we’ll save $65,000 if we settle for the grant,” he stated. 

A choice over increasing Freebee is predicted to be heard in November. 


Positioned at MM 81.2, bayside, Inexperienced Turtle Hammock Protect is about to endure a sequence of enhancements for the good thing about locals and guests. Among the many proposed enhancements is a two-story pavilion to offer a scenic overlook of Florida Bay on a scarified space alongside the waterfront the place a residential residence as soon as stood. 

A bid for development of the pavilion with a restroom, rails and roof went out July 12. Three proposals got here again by the Aug. 15 deadline with the value tag coming in 3 times increased than the village anticipated when analyzing per sq. foot prices. Bryan Prepare dinner, interim village supervisor, outlined a sequence of choices the council may take into account associated to the undertaking. Ultimately, the council determined to change the scope of the undertaking and rebid. The village will look to safe proposals exhibiting a roof on the pavilion and one other proposal with no overhead protecting. 


Greater than $590,000 in funding requests by native nonprofits have been submitted to the village as a part of a charitable donation program that allocates $125,000 this fiscal 12 months. Maria Bassett, finance director, categorized requests primarily based on organizations the village has supported via funds or donations of property, in addition to the kind of group. With a restricted quantity of funds out there for nonprofits, Bassett stated any requests beneath $10,000 may get the complete quantity. These requesting greater than $10,000 may obtain 25% of the request. Nonprofits like Florida Bay Endlessly have been eradicated, as Bassett stated the village gave them a spot to function at Inexperienced Turtle Hammock Protect. As well as, the village covers their utilities. 

The council determined to debate the matter at a Sept. 12 finances workshop. 

Council additionally mentioned a committee choice course of authorised by the council in April. Which requires native residents to use and undergo an interview in an effort to be thought-about. Every committee member, per the brand new ordinance, can be appointed by a council majority vote. Earlier than, council members made their very own choices to committees. Any at-large positions on committees have been authorised by majority vote. 

As an illustration, an achievable housing residents advisory committee — now named the workforce and inexpensive housing residents advisory committee — that had 4 open seats noticed a complete of eight purposes. Among the many candidates have been present members Don Horton, who serves as chairman; Keith Douglass; Lindsay Quick and Greg Dully. New purposes got here from village residents Susan Walker, Paige Presnell, Pete Bacheler and Joan Scholz. Council authorised the appointments to the committee. 

A choice over appointments to the Native Planning Company, which had 12 purposes for seven seats, will come again at an additional date. Within the meantime, the council will submit their high seven candidates to the village clerk and Prepare dinner.Dialogue additionally ensued over the potential for staggering phrases of village council members, offering time period limits, upping council pay and implementing limits on marketing campaign spending. Councilwoman Elizabeth Jolin stated such adjustments would wish to go earlier than the voters. An election may occur as quickly as March, as Monroe County Elections Supervisor Joyce Griffin informed the village they may conduct an election in March with none further prices. The council is predicted to debate the matter additional at a future assembly.

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