After a day of fielding questions, Marco Island’s city manager candidates had the chance to get a few of their own answered.
During a two-hour motor tour of the island, Fire Chief Mike Murphy responded to queries about who maintained landscaped cul-de-sacs, how many of the island’s lots have direct access to the gulf and discussed house prices. He and City Public Information Coordinator Lisa Douglass also tossed out a wealth of information on the area’s history, its parks, ongoing infrastructure projects and good places to get dinner.
It was something of a breather in a day filled rotating between City Council members, department heads and interim City Manager Dana Souza. And it preceded another test by fire when the candidates would meet residents at a social event from 6 to 8 in the evening.
Candidates got a look at every aspect of city life, from the storied Winterberry Field, where the Men’s Senior Softball League goes head to head, to the city’s water treatment facilities on each end of the island.
It ran the five men past stunning views of the gulf and not-so-stunning views of reuse pipe installation on the island’s southern end. Candidates got a look at famous sites, like the Snook Inn, and more carefully hidden treasures, such as Otter Mound Preserve, a shell mound tucked in the estates area. The rented van ferried the candidates slowly up and down the hills of the Caxambas neighborhood, as Murphy talked about the advantages of living in the area with the highest elevation in South Florida.
"A couple of feet mean a lot in a hurricane," Murphy said. "And, the insurance here is much better than at other areas."
Candidates also viewed many of the city’s works in progress. The East Winterberry Bridge, under construction and on track for completion in June, was viewed from both ends, and the expanse of Veterans’ Community Park was the site of a brief stop.
Murphy discussed both the controversial history of the site — it was the area found littered with asbestos-contaminated pipe in 2006 — as well as the uncertain future of the city-owned plots.
"It’s kind of just up in the air right now for planning," Murphy said.
The candidates nodded, as they chugged off to their next stop, contemplating their own uncertain futures. At 3 p.m. Tuesday, council will meet to select just one of the five men as the second-ever city manager of Marco Island.