Photos/Blog: Planning Board sees demo of unsafe gurney on gravel

Fire chief: Gurney on gravel unsafe

Marco Fire Chief demonstrates safety risk of ...

— Marco's Planning Board is to review whether to allow shell and gravel driveways as well as consider whether to change parking space requirements for restaurants.

Shell driveway consideration

Fire Chief Mike Murphy said he plans to demonstrate how unsafe it is to roll gurneys on gravel.

"We do not object to compacted shell. Loose gravel is the issue," Murphy said.

"I'm against this charade. The rock on the side of this building isn't demonstrative of a compacted shell driveway... It's turning one issue into another. You want to go out to somebody's driveway, I'll go out there with you. It's a misrepresentation of the issue," said Planning Board member Vince Magee.

The reason the board is reviewing the ordinance regulating permissible materials for driveways is because resident Ann Sepe and Al Marchand installed a shell driveway in their then-new home in April 2008. They were told by a building official is was OK, but later learned the city's codes on the issue were vague and the board began reviewing whether shell was a "dustless" material as required by the current code.

Sepe and Marchand have been waiting nearly two years for the city officials to decide if their driveway was legal so that they would be given a permanent certificate of occupancy for their recently built home on Piedmont Circle. The couple has lived on Marco for about 15 years before building their new home. They currently have a temporary C.O. until the issue is resolved.

Murphy said he hasn't seen the couple's driveway.

Member Irv Pavlow said he would take the Fire Chief's word for it that gravel was dangerous for the backs of emergency responders. He didn't need to see it.

New member Patricia Walsh said she would be willing to see the Chief's demonstration or go to someone's house to see a demonstration on other material.

Planning Board Monte Lazarus said he thought the majority of the board was willing to see it. Chairman Jim Riviere, who said on Thursday night that he would allow the demonstration, said he was less amenable to the idea this morning.

City Council-elect Larry Magel volunteered to be the person on the gurney.

Magee said he didn't understand why Murphy would bring up non-compacted gravel material to slow down the board's review of the ordinance because compacted gravel and shell was always an agreed-upon aspect of the regulations.

Murphy said there are gravel driveways on the Island where the gravel was loose and four-inches thick making rolling the gurney wheels difficult and unsafe for the patient as well as the rescuer.

The Planning Board members, audience, Fire Chief, several firefighters and Collier County Emergency Services Personnel gathered outside the City Hall complex as Magel was put into a gurney. Planning Board members pushed Magel on the gurney through gravel that was put on the ground between the building and some bushes. The gravel was not compacted because it's not a walkway or driveway, but a decorative part of the city landscaping.

The board members could not easily push the gurney near the bushes or drag it back out.

The board voted 5-1 to move the ordinance to allow shell driveways if compacted and sloped by no more than 12 percent.

Restaurant parking

The Planning Board, by request by City Council Chairman Rob Popoff, is considering an ordinance to regulate all restaurant parking requirements on a similar basis. Currently, parking requirements are more strict for restaurants in stand-alone buildings and small plazas compared with restaurants in large plazas.

Also, the measurement for these free-standing restaurants is based on a ratio of seats to available parking spaces while eateries in large plazas are based on restaurants' square footage.

The Planning Board is looking at an ordinance to regulate both by square footage.

The Marco Island Restaurant Association is seeking an ordinance that will not limit their ability to obtain a state liquor license and will also be more equitable between the two building types.

The city implemented a pilot program to remove restrictions on the number of seats allowed until April. So far, one restaurant, Capt. Brien's, applied for that no-cost permit.

Members of the Restaurant Associations said the pilot program didn't help because they needed the rules to change permanently to get their liquor licenses.

Community Development Director Steve Olmsted and City Planner Kris Van Lengen offered several options based on size, seats and other factors.

Planning Board member Monte Lazarus said not counting outside seats in the 4:1 seat to parking requirement, as well as free market economics were additional options.

"Sometimes the simplest option is the best solution," Lazarus said.

"We've always recommended you take a conservative approach," Olmsted said.

State requirements for a liquor license are based on additional seats while currently city requirements limit restaurants' ability to add seats based on their parking.

The Planning Board is balancing their needs with the challenge that parking on-Island is limited and without restrictions, patrons may end up using or abusing adjacent properties if parking is not available.

Van Lengen said if the city chose to reduce requirements for restaurants in plazas of 16,000 square feet or less from the four seats per space requirement to the one space per 200 square feet is an approximate 42 percent reduction in required spaces.

Joe Oliverio, president of the Restaurant Association, said even so, that change would be more fair by making the requirement for restaurants in small plazas or free-standing buildings 20 percent more restrictive than for restaurants in large plazas.

Walsh said there is no solution and such suggested no change be made since parking requirements have been made more lax three times in the last four years.

"Doing nothing isn't always an option... Over the last 10 years we've had a series of relaxing the parking and obviously it's not enough because restaurants keep asking," Magee said.

This entire discussion illustrates the absurdity of trying to create this kind of regulation, Lazarus said. "This solution, ladies and gentlemen, is the market place... There is no problem here," he added.

"Once you liberalize parking standards, you can't put the genie back in the bottle," Van Lengen cautioned of the board.

Lazarus said if the policy had a sunset than the "genie in the bottle effect" could be avoided.

There are about 100 restaurants on Island. All are members of the association, but only 25 of them are active members, Oliverio said.

He added that the temporary pilot program isn't attractive because restaurant owners don't want to buy more seats to use for just two months and still not be able to get a liquor license.

"Not one person in this entire community is here to say there is a parking problem at free-standing restaurants," Oliverio said.

"One to 200 square feet and you're not going to see anybody here anymore asking for more... That solves it," he added.

President of the Marco Island Taxpayers' Association Fay Biles said the only time there is limited parking is in-season. "I think we're going after a seasonal problem... I would listen to the Restaurant Association. I think they know more about what's really going on," she said.

Resident Bob Olson agreed. "There aren't many times when I stand up and agree with Monte (Lazarus)... Let's be pro-business... Make it easier for someone to come in and open a restaurant... Let's keep it simple. Let's keep it a market-driven issue," he said.

Olson said the regulations should be eliminated, but at minimum, follow the association's recommendation, he suggested. Olson is not a restaurant owner.

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Comments » 13

Stilllaughing writes:

I used to think highly of our fire chief before reading this nonsense. A demonstration of a gurney on gravel has nothing to do with whether it's dustless or not. I would hope our chief would have better things to do with his time than help harass these poor people.
Since it is now a safety issue - I assume the gurneys have no problem rolling thru the sand at the beach.

marco97 writes:

How do they work on stairs? we have lots of stilt homes on the island. I don't think that many people would opt for a shell driveways if the city allowed them anyway.

dcrain writes:

The homeowners have been waiting for 2 years to get this resolved and Chief Murphy hasn't had the time to visit their driveway? I agree with Mr. McGee, attempting to roll a gurnee over landscaping gravel is nothing more than a charade. Shell driveways, if properly compacted are better for the environment, especially on barrier islands such as Marco. Give these people their certificate of occupancy and move on to more important issues.

ajm3s writes:

In a fairness to Chief Murphy, what he demonstrated is that non-trained citizens cannot drag a gurney with a councilman in tow through a #57 rock that is non-compacted along a narrow land borderd by a building and shrubbery on the each side.

Conclusion: Do not allow untrained personnel to assist in rescue operations.

However, folks, the demonstration seriously convinced some. I know Waldack was convinced he told me so. God help us all.

OldMarcoMan writes:

God help you if you have a heart attack or fall in a zero=scaped yard!
It would be worth the cost to send these guys to Captiva or Sanibel to learn how to navigate a shell drive way.

Ned269 writes:

I said it before and I'll say it again,Wouldn't it make more sense to change the gurney's wheels and/or design. God forbid you had to say go out on the beach or out on grass. It just seems like someone doesn't like shell driveways and wants them gone.

ajm3s writes:

Safety: Having properly trained professional rescue personnel demonstrate how they transport victims over terrain that is compromising. I would have been impressed if Chief Murphy would have demonstrated how the citizens are in capable hands due to his ability to provide the training and equipment for those who are under his supervision, to meet all emergency challenges given the resources provided by its taxpayers.

I would have applauded his efforts and proud of his leadership, but that is not what he demonstrated. He demonstrated the difficulty in transporting someone on non-compacted landscaping stone that is clearly not allowed in the current ordinance that was discussed that day.

Let me ask the citizens of this island what is the safer scenario:

Are you safer if we not allow certain driveway materials because they may result in back injuries and its impact on transporting victims on a gurney with 4" wheels across such surfaces as stated by Chief Murphy to the Planning Board.


Are you safet if Chief Murphy would have stated that he has the confidence that rescue personnel are not phased by what material is on a driveway, since his men are are trained to handle all terrains on this island. That driveway materials do not impact safety for both the rescuer and victim since there are well documeneted and tested protocols for transportion of victims. That he could confirm his confidence by providing data (i.e loss/work hours below state averages or some other metric).

The difference between Marco Island municipal vs private industry demonstrations of performance: Private industries demonstrate their capabilities so they can sell a service or product to a discerning customer. Marco Island municipal management demonstrates how difficult their plight. How they are underfunded, and understaffed and how great a job they do. But we have injuries and back problems.

In private industry there would be a review of practices to ascertain why there are injuries in performing their jobs in an effort to reduce employee claims in the ultimate goal to reduce cost and increase efficiency.

On Marco Island, the Chief goes to the public to demonstrate how difficult rescue operations are and will actually heralt the number of on the job injuries as quoted from Florida workmens compensation statistics.

It is a given, firefighters and rescue work under very hazardous conditions as well as miners etc. And all hazardous occupations are under the review of OSHA regualtions.

Most on the job injuries, are from not following standard industry specific protocols.

In my world, I would ask the manager why do we have excessive on the job time loss. In Marco Island world they actually shout out: Look how difficult my job is and I have the injuries to prove it.

I do not get it.

zaq1 writes:

Has the Marco gov't lost its common sense and control? A shell driveway? A Fire Chief who is questionably trained and/ or qualified demonstrates a ridiculous scenario all the while posturing a safety issue. His clearly political agenda at someone else's command is quite evident. The fire dept either needs more training and/ or better equipment. Two years have gone by for these people with no CO. All that it appears to be is that someone's nose got out of joint because his back wasn't scratched in the initial process. The ordinance seems very clear in its meaning. Mr. Olmstead objected vehemently to it initially then changed his position at the last board meeting even after the Fire Chief kept repeating the same old song about safety and the "gravel/ gurney story". I find his credibility to be in question and his tactics abhorring. This charade should stop now and someone should look into the Chief's health as it may be time for this ole horse to be put out to pasture if he wasn't put up to do it. This is what's wrong with this country today. And for the Chief and Marco pols to think that they are going to rewrite the State's fire code requirements and laws is and absolute waste of time. Just end this now. I do thank the board for not wasting any more time and voting with some common sense ( all but one of course ). I pray the rest of the process will quickly approve of their driveway and waste their gov't time on some other unecessary unscratched back project.

woods311 writes:

I think the peter principal states, that within a
bureaucracy, a person will always be promoted to their highest level of incompetence.
Here is living proof.

GBR writes:

in response to ajm3s:

In a fairness to Chief Murphy, what he demonstrated is that non-trained citizens cannot drag a gurney with a councilman in tow through a #57 rock that is non-compacted along a narrow land borderd by a building and shrubbery on the each side.

Conclusion: Do not allow untrained personnel to assist in rescue operations.

However, folks, the demonstration seriously convinced some. I know Waldack was convinced he told me so. God help us all.

I couldn't agree more. I know professional paramedics, they find this hilarious.

Let me be the devils advocat.
What happens if a medical emergency happens on the beach? Will the person have to wait till help from Naples or Ft.Myers gets there to take them across the unstable sand? Do they have to hope that good samaritans drag them to a stable sidewalk so they can be transported?

What if it happens in their backyard? At the Park?

What a joke. Give these people their C.O. and move on to things that are really important.


artrules writes:

And the citizens are supposed to take all of this serious? This looks and sounds like a Saturday Night Live Skit!

heretoooolong writes:

Oh,NO!! Quick everyone in the world needs to pave their driveways! It's a matter of life and death.
This is the dumbest thing I have read in a while. Just let these poor people move into their house already.

OldMarcoMan writes:

Oh by the way,,,having more than one Elected Councilmen there is a violation of the Sunshine Law,,,,, Remember Terri and Chuch at the Sew Gas inspection????
Don't start your term under the shadow of illegality Magel, you and Gibson need to Man Up and Resign before it become a issue.

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