Marco’s cultural center may get ‘connected’ by federal dollars

Plans for Marco Island Linear Park get pushed up to a top county priority

Collier County MPO puts Marco's $209,000 linear park trail, shown in green, as a top priority for federal funding of transportation projects which promote alternative transportation. The 12-foot wide, shared-use pathway will work to connect what is being described as the Island's 'cultural center,' which will include the library, new museum, Racquet Center and Mackle Park.

Photo by City of Marco Island

Collier County MPO puts Marco's $209,000 linear park trail, shown in green, as a top priority for federal funding of transportation projects which promote alternative transportation. The 12-foot wide, shared-use pathway will work to connect what is being described as the Island's "cultural center," which will include the library, new museum, Racquet Center and Mackle Park.

— Another Marco Island project made the top list of Collier County projects to receive federal funding. The first was the announcement of the Judge S.S. Jolley Bridge as a top priority in a Collier County Metropolitan Planning Organization meeting in February.

Once again the MPO, of which Trotter is a member, put Marco on top of the list of county priorities, at a meeting Friday. This time it is the Marco Island Linear Park trail, which is a 12-foot wide, heavily landscaped, shared-use path, around what Marco leaders have been hoping to become the Island’s cultural center.

“I suppose you probably had a little bit to do with this,” Vice Chairman Frank Recker said to Trotter Monday evening as the announcement of the priority list was made at the council meeting.

Recker, the rest of council and the audience clapped for Trotter’s part in garnering support of Marco projects.

The MPO voted Friday to move the Island’s linear park to the top spot replacing the Gordon River Greenway Park, which was formerly the top priority, the Naples Daily News reported Friday.

The linear park is now number one on the a list of enhancement projects that could receive a portion of the $800,000 in federal funding going to the county over the next two years.

Daily News reporter Tracy X. Miguel reported Friday that MPO members’ reason for moving the Marco project from fourth on the list to first was public safety.

The linear park trail from San Marco Road to Andalusia Terrace will provide connectivity between city facilities including, Mackle Park, the city’s Racquet Center, Marco Island Branch Library and the Marco Historical Museum, which is currently under construction.

Betsy Perdichizzi, campaign co-chair of the Marco museum, has said she hopes these facilities will create Marco’s cultural center.

The trail would include bicycle and pedestrian use with park features such as benches and landscaping. Ultimately, it would provide a safe means of transportation especially for children who frequent Mackle Park, Miguel reported.

The $400,000 Gordon River Greenway request for enhancement funds would have built boardwalks along the river in downtown Naples, she wrote. The total cost of the Gordon River project is estimated at $14.1 million.

“In my opinion, the sidewalks and safety trumps recreation,” Naples Councilwoman and MPO member Dee Sulick said during Friday’s meeting.

The funds, which must pass through FDOT, are made available for projects that expand transportation choices.

Collier Commissioner Donna Fiala motioned to move the Marco Island linear park trail project, which would cost $209,000 to build, to the top ranking.

The MPO voted 4-3 to approve the proposed changes to the transportation enhancement projects list.

The Gordon River park fell to fourth on the priority list.

Marco was given prime consideration out of projects which could qualify for FDOT’s stimulus funding when MPO voted to move the Jolley Bridge to the top spot in February. The county expects to get $4.7 million from the federal government for shovel ready infrastructure improvements. About $40.4 million would go to enhancement projects throughout the state.

Although Islanders adamantly opposed tolling the Jolley Bridge, which was previously the only funding option, an online poll posted to both marconews.com and naplesnews.com, revealed that not all in Collier County agreed the bridge should be the top stimulus package project.

There were 139 responses to the question “Should the Jolley Bridge be the top priority of county transportation projects to get stimulus package dollars?” Here are the results: Yes 23 percent; no 48 percent; “I don’t know, tell me more” received 13 percent of the votes and “I don’t know, I don’t care” also received 13 percent of the votes.

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