25th Anniversary of LMKA
In 2011 the Lower Matecumbe Key Association celebrated 25 years of involvement on the island. Below is a story that appear in the Free Press at that time. ...
Civic group's impact felt over 25 years
Wednesday, April 20, 2011
BY ROBERT SILK Free Press Staff
ISLAMORADA -- In April 1986, a group of Lower Matecumbe Key residents concerned about a proposed development on the north side of the island and worried about a landuse plan being considered by Monroe County decided they needed to act collectively. The resulting Lower Matecumbe Key Association was born with the mission of preserving the island's open spaces and residential character.
"By sharing ideas and creating a method of keeping our residents and property owners better informed and more conscious of the unique nature of the key, we can protect the quality of the island," reads a goal statement included in the LMKA's first newsletter.
Now, as the LMKA reaches its 25th anniversary on Friday, April 22, it boasts more than 250 member families and a reputation as Islamorada's most organized civic group.
"Based on my experience, I'd say they are the most effective," said Councilman Don Achenberg, himself a Lower Matecumbe resident, who has sat on the Village Council since 2007.
In those early days of the late 1980s and early '90s, when Lower Matecumbe was still a part of unincorporated Monroe County, the LMKA focused on three main issues, said Mike Bier, one of its early presidents, and Sue Miller, who has been active in the association since the beginning and now writes the LMKA newsletter.
The catalyst was the county's comprehensive land-use plan, as well as talk of a single family neighborhood along undeveloped canals just south of Robbie's Marina. The islands dotting those canals are now part of the Florida State Park system and the area is a popular kayaking destination, especially for tourists setting out from Robbie's.
Other major issues in the late '80s included a trash-covered beach on the southern oceanside edge of Lower Matecumbe and the spotty, overgrown bike path that ran along the bayside of the island.
The beach back then was filled with rusted out RVs and mounds of rubbish. Some used the area to camp, even though there were no bathroom facilities. Crime too was a problem.
"It was just horrible. It was deplorable," Bier said.
Led by Anne Eaton, widow of Cleveland industrialist Cyrus Eaton, the LMKA conducted a fundraising and clean-up effort at the beach and eventually convinced Monroe County to maintain it as a park -- today known as Anne's Beach.
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