Aug 31, 2023


Shockwaves rolled through the village of Islamorada last week as word spread of

Shockwaves rolled through the village of Islamorada last week as word spread of the firing of Dan Gulizio, development services director. It came after Gulizio made some strong statements during a May 18 meeting about the work environment in the village and accusations that he was "plucking" fixes to the village's land development regulations out of the air.

The fallout continues from the firing as Councilman Henry Rosenthal will bring up discussion among the council regarding the development services director position at the June 8 meeting at Founders Park Community Center. As part of the discussion, Rosenthal requested that the public have a chance to voice their opinion.

"Public comment, if accepted, will take care of the outlining questions in relation to Dan himself. It's not my position to criticize him in any way," Rosenthal said. "He had an involuntary separation, which leaves the door open to a lot of discussion. But my intent was not to discuss his separation."

Gulizio was hired in November 2021 by then-village manager Greg Oravec following the departure of then-planning director Ty Harris in July 2021. Gulizio, who had more than 25 years of planning and land management experience, began with the village on Dec. 1, 2021.

Council members were informed of Gulizio's departure through an email by Village Manager Ted Yates the morning of May 30. With Gulizio's departure came the decision to make Jennifer DeBoisbriand, new planning director, the department head. She's spent nearly two decades in planning and economic development in Massachusetts. She began with the village last December.

"It's part of our responsibility to run the day-to-day operations here," Yates told the Keys Weekly last week. "When we look at situations like this where we lose individuals, we try to look at the department as a whole to determine where our needs and gaps are and take an opportunity to build a department that's most effective for servicing our residents."

Gulizio told council members that he went to work weeks before the May 18 meeting only to be advised by a staff member that he was about to be fired. He came in another week and was advised by another staff member that he was "resigning today."

During his time in the village, Gulizio dug into the village's land development regulations and comprehensive plan— ultimately leading to several presentations that highlighted a number of inconsistencies and gaps within the language. Gulizio ultimately crafted a list of items the council could address to fix the village's complicated code, which ranged from smaller "housekeeping" items to larger overhauls.

In other matters, the dais will consider approval with Freebee, the free rideshare service in Islamorada, for electric vehicle charging. In November 2018, the council approved a contract with Freebee to provide service to residents and tourists through several electric-powered vehicles. The agreement provided space for Freebee to charge the vehicles.

According to a memo, that provision wasn't invoked since Freebee partnered with a local business to provide charging at a convenient location. Electrical issues at that location, however, prompted Freebee to ask for the village's assistance with a charging location that was originally outlined in the agreement.

Village staff and Freebee identified an area near the South Plantation Key vacuum pump station next to village hall as an ideal site to meet the charging needs. Village staff and Freebee coordinated with the Florida Keys Electric Cooperative to install charging stations and parking. As part of the agreement, the village would be able to use the stations should new electric-powered vehicles enter its fleet.

Council members will also consider approval of an agreement with Monroe County to obtain up to $14,000 in boater improvement funds for buoy maintenance. Since 2004, the village has maintained a buoy maintenance program to aid boater navigation all while preserving nearshore water, flats and reef's within the village's jurisdiction that goes 1,200 feet offshore. The village's buoy system consists of roughly 135 navigation buoys and a series of regulators, recreational and information markers.

Over time, buoys went missing while others were damaged due to heavy boat traffic. Boater improvement funds can be used to replace and repair buoys. Buoy maintenance costs incurred by the village for the 2022-2023 fiscal year totaled $20,436.80. With $14,000 in reimbursement, the village would foot the remaining $6,436.80. Buoy maintenance is performed by Poseidon Marine Towing Corp.

Other resolutions before the council include approval of purchases for emergency pump replacements at the North Plantation Key pump station totaling $115,901; approval of a budget calendar; and approval for water quality monitoring and construction administration for the Canal 114 project on North Plantation Key. An ordinance before the dais aims to update regulations for wreckers operations.

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