MARCO ISLAND — Marco Island isn’t known for its vast amounts of public beach access. The Marriott is to help with that, although it may be four years before permanent access is open to the public.
City Council approved a request to delay construction of a permanent public beach access near the Marriott Crystal Shores, which is on Collier Boulevard near Winterberry Drive, among several other decisions made Monday evening.
Marriott representatives said they needed to delay constructing remaining time shares at the Crystal Shores due to a decline in sales and overall economic decline. The delay in construction would also require a delay in constructing the beach access on the north side of the property because once the beach access is constructed, cranes needed to build the remaining towers would not have enough room, argued Marriott attorney and Islander Craig Woodward.
Parks and Recreation Director Bryan Milk said he didn’t support the delay in building the permanent public beach access although he agreed with and expressed appreciation for the Marriott’s concessions in building a temporary beach access, maintaining it and covering the liability insurance for it.
Milk said he believed construction of the time share units could be done after construction of the permanent beach access planned for the north side of the property.
Part of the issue was safety on the planned temporary access on the south side of the property, Milk said.
Councilman Ted Forcht agreed with Milk.
“They’re a big business. I appreciate big business, but I just don’t believe them.”
Chairman Rob Popoff said the Marriott should get some credit for what they have done and some understanding for the economy businesses face along just as the government does.
“It’s not true that they haven’t done anything for us,” he said.
He pointed out that a public restroom near the Stilts restaurant and pool area is open and showers for foot rinsing are available to the public.
Islander Vinnie Grasser of the Marriott said the property managers are looking the other way at parking in their lot, but once construction starts back up, it could lead to a tow away.
City Council approved their request to delay constructing the permanent access until 2015. The temporary access is to be complete and open to beach-goers by mid-August. Construction of the Crystal Shores condo towers will also be delayed with completion expected in 2015, an approximate four year delay to complete the project.
Woodward said the new plan will actually provide beach access sooner because originally the permanent beach access was not required until 2011 and now the temporary access will be open by August.
The required beach access was in exchange for city permits that increased density and height beyond city code restrictions.
The Marriott has secured a $428,000 bond for the future construction of the permanent access.
See related stories for other decisions and discussions at Monday evening's City Council meeting.