Former Collier County Manager Jim Mudd accepts recognition from Marco
Collier County Manager Jim Mudd speaks on ...
MARCO ISLAND — Tigertail Beach will soon be more accessible to all, particularly people who are disabled. While city officials desired a composting restroom similar to one at Barefoot Beach, county officials say the conditions just aren't quite right on Marco's public beach.
City Council approved two variances to their codes for the county to construct a new restroom and dune walkover at Tigertail Beach at a meeting on Tuesday night.
The project, which costs about $650,000, will be paid for with Tourist Development dollars, or taxes collected from hotel stays, reported Collier County Coastal Zone Management project manager Clint Perryman.
The variances allow the county to build below the flood level and closer to the water at the public beach.
In earlier reports, nearby residents were concerned about water quality in a lagoon, which formed between the beach and Gulf of Mexico at Tigertail within the last 10 years, as well as the idea that the walkover was being built over that lagoon.
City Environmental Specialist Nancy Richie clarified Tuesday afternoon that neither condition is the case.
“This is a compromise to not having that walkway over the lagoon.”
The lagoon is a vital habitat, environmentalists argued when the plan was to construct over it.
Perryman said the idea at the time was only a feasibility study, which was “trumped by the opposition.”
City Planner Kris Van Lengen said the proposed walkover will be in addition to several existing walkovers; will be placed at the southern most area of the beach and will be the only one which is compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act as it will be a ramp rather than having stairs.
Coastal Zone Manager Gary McAlpin said the construction of the new boardwalk with the ramp, as well as maintenance on existing walkovers, will likely begin this month. The boardwalk will be constructed over dunes and mangroves, requiring mitigation through native planting, McAlpin added.
Richie said the lagoon that formed over the years is naturally occurring as opposed to several residents’ beliefs that it was the result of a recent beach renourishment project or unhealthy condition.
It’s a tidal lagoon and the health department tests it twice a week for bacteria and every week it’s healthy, she said.
“There are over 60 species of migratory and year-round birds that use that habitat,” Richie added.
Birds, fish, crabs and manatees use the lagoon, she reported.
“It’s something that should be valued and enjoyed.”
Councilman Jerry Gibson was concerned about how flood-proof the restrooms could really be.
McAlpin said the building is to be “stainless steal and concrete masonry built to last and withstand the storm.”
Perryman said that the variance to construct the restrooms under the flood plain may not be necessary as the Federal Emergency Management Agency is to release new flood area guidelines in May.
Restrooms may not be built for more than a year as the maps won’t be approved for about 15 months, McAlpin said.
Debbie Roddy of the Friends of Tigertail, a 501-C-3 non-profit with about 175 members, said the organization supports the restrooms and the walkway.
Roddy said people use improper areas to go to the bathroom and the facilities are needed.
“People even bring their own toilet paper,” she said.
There was disappointment among residents and council that a composting bathroom similar to the one recently constructed near Barefoot Beach was not seriously considered.
McAlpin said the composting restroom didn’t make sense for Marco because sewer lines were nearby, which they weren’t for Barefoot Beach. Following the meeting he said that monthly maintenance, as well as the need to remove the composting restroom in the event of a storm, made the cost of maintaining it price prohibitive.
“The county is trying to prevent new projects that have high ongoing costs,” McAlpin said.
Perryman reported that the composting restroom at Barefoot Beach cost $30,000 however the conditions were very different.
He said both projects will take about 120 days to construct once the project begins and the walkover will likely begin by early summer or late spring.
Council voted 6-1 to approve the variances with Councilman Wayne Waldack opposing it.
In other business council:
- Approved 5-1 with Councilman Ted Forcht voting “no” to construct a linear park from San Marco Road to Mackle Park at a total cost of $375,000. The cost to the city for the paved trail could be as much as $205,000 with $40,000 of that being for design, Public Works Director Rony Joel reported. Florida Department of Transportation is offering a grant of $200,000.
- Approved spending $39,000 for Kimley Horn to design the veterans’ memorial for Veterans’ Community Park in a unanimous (6-0) vote. Chairman Rob Popoff was absent for the second meeting of the evening.
- Approved (4-2) constructing the Mackle Park Phase 3B project, which is the last part of improvements approved by council earlier in January. Total cost for both projects is up to $430,000 and comes with a $200,000 matching grant from the Florida Recreation Development Assistant Program that expires April 30. This phase includes new irrigation, 10 new benches, concrete pads and landscaping along the lake pathway, as well as irrigation and new Bermuda turf on one-third of the existing soccer field. Forcht and Councilman Chuck Kiester voted no.