KB government gearing up ‘white glove’ recovery moves to return village to normalcy
After weeks battling the Coronavirus and its impact on the island, the Key Biscayne Village Council agreed to move into its “recovery phase” to ensure a safe return to normalcy for the village, its residents and businesses.
During the council’s virtual meeting Tuesday night, Village Manager Andrea Agha explained that the village had changed its incident command structure so that the focus is now on businesses and condominium communities.
“We have entered the recovery phase of our Covid-19 response.” Agha said. “We’re really trying to provide ‘white glove’ (treatment) to help the community recover from this, both economically and emotionally. And we’re trying to do it in a way that prevents any potential resurgence.’’
The Village will follow most federal and state mandates on openings of public spaces, it will take additional steps to ensure the safety of diners now allowed in expanded outdoor seating.
“We went a little bit more restrictive than the county with regards to the protective barriers between vehicles and the guests at a restaurant,” Agha said. “The county would allow for cones but we require a concrete barrier or alternative.”
In a related move, the village curfew was shifted from 10 p.m. to 11 p.m., a move that will help late dining. The council had asked Agha to consider changing to a midnight curfew, while councilmember Ed London requested it be eliminated entirely.
Police Chief Charles Press said the curfew was a useful tool in the early stages of the pandemic and was replicated in other communities. “We were protecting our community from people coming in from the outside to take advantage of the situation. It works,’’ he said.
Fearing a flood of outside visitors also shaped the discussion about opening beaches, starting with a request from council member Luis Lauredo to open beaches for residents only.
“I think we should take a bold step and people would appreciate it,’’ he said.
However, Mayor Mike Davey said the village can’t preclude non-residents from using the beach. He also noted that beach openings are being coordinated with Miami-Dade County so that all county beaches would open at the same time, thus avoiding excessive crowds at any one location.
Regarding Key Biscayne businesses, the council heard a presentation from the Key Biscayne Chamber of Commerce that included information about financial assistance programs used by Miramar, Miami Shores and others to their businesses.
Vice Mayor Brett Moss suggested that loans could be granted to landlords, who in turn could forgive rent payments by their business tenants.
Council member Ignacio Segurola cautioned that this type program could require additional manpower to administer the loans: “The bottleneck – the real world problems -- is who is going to process the application” and monitor the program?
In the end, the council decided to spend up to $5,000 for several sanitation stations in the commercial area as a safety assist for businesses and residents. The council also asked the chamber to consider re-organizing its budget to aid the business-support effort. The chamber’s board of directors meets on Thursday, May 21.
The next regular Village Council meeting is Tuesday, June 9, 2020