MARCO ISLAND — More than 2,000 Marco Island residents gave a thumbs down to the idea of creating a Community Redevelopment Area in Town Center.
The redevelopment district could limit the use of millions of Collier County tax dollars to just within Marco’s Town Center.
Each year, the Marco Island Civic Association sends out about 6,000 surveys to its members, all of whom are Marco residents. This year, more than 3,000 surveys were returned and the results reveal that among the least popular ideas is the creation of a CRA in the 250 acres surrounding the Town Center shopping center.
“I’ve been talking to members of MICA and people directly in that CRA area and I was not getting positive feedback,” said City Councilman Joe Batte, who wasn’t shocked by the 93 percent disapproval rate.
The membership includes a large cross-section of Marco residents and taxpayers, so the survey is a good gauge, Batte said.
Membership in MICA, which is responsible for enforcing deed restrictions, is open to property owners and renters for an annual fee.
Batte isn’t opposed personally to a CRA, but said if Marco residents don’t get on board with the redevelopment of the business district, it likely will be a no-go.
Many survey respondents supported the city purchasing Tract K from the Collier County School District for less than $3 million if it’s paid off over the course of 10 years without interest.
“That was a little surprising to me that people would be amenable to the city spending that much money,” Councilman Bill Trotter said.
About 35 percent of the people said ‘no’ to the city purchase.
“Frankly, I can’t support that. It shouldn’t be an item for sale by the county. I don’t feel the city should buy it for any price,” Batte said.
The reason, he said, is that the school district purchased the deed to the 11.6-acres in the Tigertail Beach area from Marco’s developer, Deltona Corp., for just $10, with the understood purpose of setting aside the land for future educational use.
More residents are becoming amenable to establishing a charter high school on the island, the survey revealed.
Nearly 60 percent of respondents in the 2009 survey didn’t support the school. This year, the disapproval rating slipped to 50 percent.
“It’s the question of the location of the high school that’s very controversial,” MICA President Bernardo Bezos said.
Proponents for the school are currently seeking to obtain use of Tract K.