This is the first segment in a two-part feature reviewing Marco’s news of the year, “A look back at 2009.”
MARCO ISLAND -- Islanders experienced many gains and losses in 2009 — not including the stock market. There can be no comprehensive list of all that was lost and gained, so as we look back at several major events of the year, others not listed will likely come to mind. If so, leave your thoughts below this story in the comments section of marconews.com.
What we’ve learned from what we’ve lost
Earlier in the year, Marco experienced a sudden loss of their longest-serving, most boldly honest, former city councilman, longterm Island attorney, friend and mentor, Glenn Tucker.
Tucker was a man many described as a big Teddy bear.
His sudden death gripped the Island and his name lives on in discussions of all the projects he helped kick-start, some of which are complete, and at least one of which is just getting started.
Tucker was the man behind what is now Veterans’ Community Park. He pushed for the purchase of what was then called the Glonn Property, having the foresight to know that the Island would appreciate a piece of its limited green space to remain protected for community-use.
Islanders were again reminded how quickly a life can be lost as two toddlers, within a parents relative blink of an eye, would drown in private Island swimming pools this year.
The tragedies had parents ever-more aware of how much every second mattered and how much their attention was needed. Islanders began thinking about protective devices for pool, legislation and education.
Marco Island Police Capt. Dave Baer put it best when it comes to trying to take a lesson from such tragic losses. “It’s nearly impossible to calculate what you’ve prevented.”
The identity of the man, whose remains were discovered in Goodland in May, is still a mystery. Collier County Sheriff’s Office investigators and forensic artists are working tirelessly to hopefully, one day, bring closure to his family and those who knew him.
What we can accomplish when we work together
Marco Islanders came together to make great strides this year. Two churches, the oldest and newest, united in-part to help the oldest church survive the economic upheaval felt by many individuals and organizations the past two years.
After several years of trying, dog lovers finally barked up the right tree and City Council approved creating a place for dogs to romp off of their common tethers. With the help of many individuals, businesses and organizations, which were pulled together by a group that called themselves Friends of Canine Cove, the off-leash dog parks are now a reality.
Marco Island’s firefighter of the year, Deputy Chief Chris Byrne, had the opportunity and foresight to save the life of a fellow firefighter. Byrne instituted a new, more thorough, department physical leading to the discovery of a firefighter’s several pound internal tumor — undoubtedly saving a life and prolonging that firefighter’s career.
Islanders rally-cry to save Marco Island’s 40 year-old Art League will likely continue through 2010.
Many leaders, including City Councilman Bill Trotter, Collier County Commissioner Donna Fiala and former councilman Mike Minozzi, worked to get support on county, state and federal levels for one of the largest projects the Island will see in 2010 — the expansion of the Judge S.S. Jolley Bridge from a one-span, two-lane bridge to a two-span, four lane bridge.
Can the same level of success happen for the new Marco Island Historical Museum? Fiala and others remain optimistic that the county’s offering of the land, Islanders’ contributions totalling $4.5 million and the Tourist Development Council’s $100,000 contribution will not go to waste. So far, the museum building is a success and it remains to be seen whether Marco and county officials can rally together for several adequately impressive exhibits to fill what will be the largest, newest museum in the county system.