The ongoing trash problem at the Shell Pile launch site behind the Cedar Key Marina building was aired at the February 21 City Commission meeting. The Shell Pile site was purchased by the City several years ago when Community Redevelopment money was abundant. The site has been a source of trash disposal cost from inception. A partnership agreement between the City and the Cedar Key Aquaculture Association (CKAA) was updated by Ken Edmunds, speaking for the CKAA. In summary, the cost of trash removal is greater than the share of the cost that the CKAA has agreed to share with the City. Furthermore the cost is greater than the City Commission is willing to bear.
What followed was a free-wheeling discussion that reached a consensus that was summed up by Commissioner Scott Dennison when he said that the City can no longer subsidize a local industry. Commissioner Gene Hodges provided a motion that dumping be prohibited at the Shell Pile site. The motion passed unanimously.
Following up on that action, Mr. Hodges moved that the Shell Pile property be given to the CKAA. When no second to the motion was forthcoming, Mayor/Commissioner Heath Davis passed the gavel to Mr. Hodges so that he could legally second the motion. Keeping the gavel once in his hand, Mr. Hodges erupted in a tirade about the folly of the Commission prior to his being elected to the group. Despite earlier reticence, the Commission approved the motion four to one, with Commissioner Dennison voting against.
The original cost of the property was estimated at less than $400,000. The trash volume has been largely plastic clam bag cover nets encrusted with oysters. Past dumping of household waste by site users or others was not discussed. Nor was the value of encrusted cover nets for use as foundations for reestablishment of oyster bars, a current university research project.
Rose Cantwell, who represented the CKAA along with Ken Edmunds, agreed to take the City`s offer of Shell Pile ownership to the CKAA Board of Directors meeting on March 15.