"The Restaurant Association doesn't see this as a bad project," Joey's Pizza & Pasta House owner Joseph Oliverio said.
"We're just concerned about the management of the project.
We want a plan that's good for everybody."
Project manager Bill Oliver made a short presentation on the proposed changes to North Collier, with an emphasis on the business districts between Saturn and Amazon courts and Bald Eagle Drive and Elkcam Circle.
Oliver displayed the design team's plans, along with original proposals and suggestions made by the planning board. Oliver mentioned the installation of a traffic light at Elkcam Circle, across from the Esplanade, a move that was met with much approval from those in attendance.
"The idea is to provide clear, defined turn opportunities, with reasonably designed turn lanes," Oliver said.
But the focus of the meeting soon shifted to how the 20-month redesign will adversely effect North Collier businesses.
NeNe's Kitchen owner Joe Novelli said the long traffic disruption will discourage tourists from visiting Marco Island during the winter months.
"It will take businesses five years to recover from that (loss of business)," Novelli said. "To think that you haven't looked into that is appalling."
"There are some businesses that are very dependent on seasonal funding," Oliverio added.
"In the long run, we may recover costs, but in the meantime, some businesses will close." Later he added, "Sometimes you have to spend a little bit more to get things done the right way."
Oliverio proposed extending the length of the project, and postponing construction during the tourist season.
"If you could ... guarantee one year (of construction), and only one season, maybe we could bite the bullet," Oliverio said.
City Manager Bill Moss said there is no plan to do the project in phases, as Oliverio suggested, but rather to get the job done as quickly as possible.
Moss conceded that some businesses may suffer, but said, "I can say intuitively that (the redesign) will serve more as an economic stimulus."
City Councilman Mike Minozzi said that it would be very difficult, and possibly even more time consuming, to attempt the project solely in the summer months. He explained that digging during that time is a lesson in futility, because the heavy rainstorms quickly wash away trenches.
"Everybody is going to be inconvenienced, no matter what the project is," Minozzi said.
Council Chairwoman Terri DiSciullo, who earlier thanked business owners for their honesty and encouraged feedback, said the council will try to be sensitive to business owners.
"There is no one who wants to see any businesses go under," DiSciullo said. "(City Council) and staff will do whatever we have to do to ensure that."
The North Collier redesign will be the topic of discussion during a 4 p.m. meeting Monday, May 3, at Mackle Park.
Marco Island residents are encouraged to attend the meeting.
The discussion will likely continue at the scheduled council meeting at 6 p.m. that evening.