760 North Collier Blvd, Marco
MARCO ISLAND — If there was a theme to the latter part of Monday’s City Council meeting it may have been how to be a good neighbor. A three-year old agreement between the city and their city hall neighbor, physician Andrew Guidry, owner of 19 Bald Eagle Drive, went awry over the years and City Council decided to bring down the wall that separated them both metaphorically and physically.
“I want to sound like Ronald Reagan and say ‘Mr. Thompson take down that wall,” said Councilman Rob Popoff.
The wall is a cement barricade put up by the city in the spring after Guidry attempted to charge for parking in his lot.
Guidry said he was upset because the city’s use of his parking lot as overflow for City Hall parking caused his liability insurance to increase by about $4,000 per year.
The city and Guidry had formal and informal agreements for Guidry to donate to the city his approximate 80-foot by 250-foot right of way in order for the city to build the police building. In exchange, the city would redesign Guidry’s lot, provide him a new sign, upgrade his landscaping and provide electricity to the parking lot’s lights, according to City Planner Bryan Milk, who recently was also hired as the parks and recreation director.
“(Guidry’s) facility was designed around our facility to interface with us long term. When it’s closed it’s a bad design. We never would have designed the parking lot that way if it were going to be closed. It dead ends; the ordinance prohibits that,” Milk said.
Guidry did not immediately return calls from Eagle, however Popoff said he is friends with Guidry and spoke with him about the issue.
“Guidry is not angry with the city. It’s not a vendetta. It’s simply if he can’t cover the insurance, he doesn’t want to open that lot and I can’t say I disagree,” Popoff said.
Councilman Ted Forcht was not immediately open to the idea of compensating Guidry and did not believe the city needed the extra parking. However Popoff, Milk and Councilman Chuck Kiester reminded council of Guidry’s donation to the police building.
“We gave him a plaque,” Forcht said and then laughed.
When the city vacated Bald Eagle Drive to make way for the police building, neighbors to the now vacated roadway legally take part ownership to the land. Guidry donated his newly acquired land after the road was vacated, Milk said.
“As Joe the Planner, (the lot) needs to inner-connect,” said Kiester, a former city planner.
Not everyone agreed.
“This is black mail. I don’t think this should be approved... Let’s not give this money away that easy... Think it over,” said resident Sal Sciarrino.
“And where’s the taxpayers association?” Sciarrino asked as he stepped away from the podium.
“Not with you, that’s for sure,” replied Marco Island Taxpayer Association President Fay Biles from her seat in the audience
Council voted 4-3 to approve paying for Guidry’s liability insurance expenses less the cost of electricity for the parking lot lights for an annual total of $3,897. The five year agreement if approved by Guidry does not include any future increases in the cost for electricity or liability insurance, said Alan Gabriel, the city attorney.
Chairman Bill Trotter, Councilmen Jerry Gibson and Wayne Waldack voted against the agreement.
Kiester thanked Thompson and city staff for coming to an agreement with Guidry after the issue spanned back to former City Manager Bill Moss and two interim city managers.
Another issue among neighbors sprung up at the council meeting and an immediate resolution did not seem easy to find. About 12 Smokehouse Bay residents complained to council about noise coming from the Esplanade.
Ellen and Joe Gruber said they were disappointed council approved additional events at the Esplanade over the summer despite their e-mail pleas not to do so. Council approved an increase from 26 live events to 52 live events with amplified music each year. At the time, Community Development Director Steve Olmsted only produced two e-mails from residents in opposition to the increase. Many more residents said they were in support of increasing events on island.
The Grubers live on the water near Guy Harvey’s and said the music coming from the live music at the Esplanade disrupts their home life.
“You can’t go out on you lanai. You either turn your TV up as loud as you can or close yourself in,” said Ellen Gruber.
John Gruber wears a hearing aid and said despite hearing problems he still finds the noise unbearable.
“You can measure the sound but you can’t measure the irritability,” said Walter Zorn of Elkcam Circle West.
He compared it to a baby crying on a plane, saying even if the decibels didn’t violate code it’s irritating.
Toni Westphal of Dorando Court said she resented being forced to support the Esplanade.
“We had to listen to three hours of bongo drums. Visitors to the Esplanade have a choice to leave after a half hour,” she said.
Olmsted said he would test the decibels and talk to the owners about what can be done to make life better for their neighbors. He will also review council minutes from three years ago to see if amplified music was prohibited in the approval to build the Esplanade, as residents suggested was the case.
Irritated home owners say they want council to change their decision by decreasing the events at the Esplanade. The issue will likely return to council in January following code enforcements’ investigation of the issue.
In other business Council:
-Approved 7-0 an ordinance to allow for larger boat docks increasing the maximum of 20-feet to either 25 or 30-feet depending on whether the width of the canal is 100 feet or greater. The ordinance will allow docks to protrude 25 percent into the canal.
-Approved 6-1 (with Forcht dissenting) the purchase of a $900,000 standby generator for the north water treatment plant to be installed by Technical Management Associates, Inc., the lowest bidder.
-Approved 4-3 a contract with APAC Southeast, the lowest bidder, to repave San Marco Road for $160,000.
-Approved 7-0 a $75,000 community development block grant to construct sidewalks in the Marco Highlands Subdivision.
-Approved 6-1, with Forcht dissenting, the landscape contractor education and registration ordinance requiring most lawn care contractors to register with the city for $25 annually.
-Approved 7-0 on second reading the capital improvements element of the amendment to the comprehensive plan.
-Approved 7-0 the school concurrency amendment to the comprehensive plan and an interlocal agreement for public school facility planning as required by state law.
-Deferred an award of contract for construction of the Kendall and Mackle Park sewer districts because one of the bidders, D.N. Higgens is protesting the city’s recommendation to award the contract to Quality Enterprises. D.N. Higgens may formally appeal to Council in January.
-Approved 7-0 to sell LCEC an easement on Bald Eagle Drive for $750,000 with the condition the money be used to install sidewalks on Bald Eagle Drive.
-Tabled awarding a contract to design a new utility operations building. The design estimate was $484,000 and the building may cost in excess of $5 million city officials estimated.
-Stalled the process of auditing the Collier Boulevard project.
-Appointed an ad hoc financial planning committee to assist in the city budget process.