Video/Photos: Driveways approved despite bumpy ride

Fire chief coordinates gurney demonstration; Planning Board votes to approve compacted gravel and shell

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Fire chief: Gurney on gravel unsafe

Marco Fire Chief demonstrates safety risk of ...

— It’s been a bumpy road for residents hoping to keep their shell and gravel driveways on Marco Island. However, after at least 18 months of debate, Planning Board members decided to allow the materials, as long as council will also approve the ordinance.

Fire Chief Mike Murphy coordinated a demonstration of how unsafe rolling a gurney on loose gravel could be by having volunteer Councilman-elect Larry Magel play victim while Planning Board members rolled him on a gurney through loose gravel located between bushes and the side of a building in City Hall on Friday morning.

“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.

Murphy maintains that the demonstration was to address an earlier draft version of an ordinance that did not specify that gravel and shell needed to be compacted. He said the path used was demonstrative of several current gravel driveways on Island that are not properly installed and maintained with loose gravel four inches thick causing emergency responders to lift the gurney for several feet adding risk to the injured person they’re attempting to help as well the backs of the responders.

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

Marco resident Fay Biles and Planning Board member Irv Pavlow said aesthetics was the issue.

“All the gravel driveways on the Island are dirty. They look awful. They need to do something about it,” Biles said.

Residents Ann Sepe and Al Marchand, who installed a shell driveway in their then-new home in April 2008 because a building official said it was OK, 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 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.

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.

As they watched the demonstration, they said the conditions of the gravel used did not mirror their flat, compacted shell driveway and they didn’t believe untrained personnel rolling the gurney on landscaping gravel around bushes presented a level playing field for comparing conditions.

Murphy agreed that the demonstration was not to prevent the couple from getting their C.O. Although he hasn’t seen the couple’s driveway on Piedmont Circle, he has seen a driveway on Shadowridge Court as well in other locations that do not fit the bill of being compacted.

Not all members of the board wanted to see the demonstration, but they allowed it.

“I’ll take the Fire Chief’s word for it (that gravel is dangerous). I don’t need to see,” said Pavlow.

During her first meeting as a member of the board, 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.

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 an already agreed-upon aspect of the regulations. He called the demonstration a “circus side show.”

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

After the rough ride, Magel said his back hurt, which was part of the show set up by Murphy and Emergency Medical Services officer Cherie Wilson-Watson. Magel added that it was clearly difficult to roll the wheels through the rock.

The board voted 5-1 to move the ordinance to allow shell and gravel driveways forward to council as long as the material was compacted and the driveway was sloped by no more than 12 percent. Property owners who have shell or gravel driveways with a greater slope will have two years to come into compliance.

Chairman Jim Riviere said he voted against the ordinance because he didn’t think it properly addressed existing driveways that don’t meet the code as written.

City Planner Kris Van Lengen assured Sepe and the Planning Board that the couple’s driveway met the conditions in the ordinance and that as long as council also approved the ordinance, their permanent certificate of occupancy for the home would be granted.

Murphy’s concerns may still be dangling because Van Lengen said testing compaction of shell and gravel was not something the city staff would be able to do. So, the driveways that exist with heaps of loose gravel material, may remain.

“Sure, there are conditions that are more difficult than others, but I want the city to show respect for private property rights,” Marchand said.

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Comments » 10

ajm3s writes:

Pathetic. Disgraceful. UNPROFESSIONAL. This is a sophmoric display of emergency techniques by untrained volunteers. We expect better. I grew up in a family with a Deputy Chief and he is outraged.

There are clear and specific procedures for transporting victioms under a wide range of situations, including performing chest compressions while transporting a victiom.

That is what they are trained to do, but instead we get this video. Mr. Magee was not loud enough because some people accepted this as evidence of the limitations of EMS for performing life saving techniques because of an uneven, non-compacted surface.

GOD HELP US ALL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

happy6 writes:

this entire debacle is a joke...magel's back hurt...you gotta be kidding...he played tennis today at hideaway...we are/were a beach community and the fire dept needs to be able to handle beach rescues...gravel rescues and grass rescues...if they can't then we need to get someone who can...they send a fire truck with he ambulance on every call for the purpose of having enough people to carry the gurney...this is per the fire dept folks....
we have spent untold amounts of money on this issue...had the fire chief merely said initially "no problem, we serve"....then perhaps all the money spent on this could have gotten him another fireman on the payroll....
magel has no business laying his a-- on a gurney for a demo ride....talk about an embarrassment for marco...come on council do your freakin' job.

Stilllaughing writes:

Our taxpayer dollars at work. Once again our city officials unaware that they are the punchline.
Are they really that blinded by playing politics?

mckee writes:

Shell driveways eventually become pulverized, turn to dust and create a nuisance in the neighborhood.

JohninMarco writes:

in response to mckee:

Shell driveways eventually become pulverized, turn to dust and create a nuisance in the neighborhood.

Hey airhead you live at a beach.

ajm3s writes:

in response to mckee:

Shell driveways eventually become pulverized, turn to dust and create a nuisance in the neighborhood.

That is partially true but it is apparent mainly on county roads and commercial lots where traffic is of a higher frequency and see heavier loads due to commercial trucks. This is a residential lot that I believe commercial traffic is bypassing since it is a DRIVEWAY. Yes over time the shells do breakdown but I have only one life to live so I believe the house will be demo'd before the driveway turns to dust.

I don't want to get religious but I read somewhere: "From dust to dust."

You also assume, that homeowners do not have the capacity to maintain by adding additional stone as it is driven into the subbase.

I happen to like the look, because I hate cracked concrete and shifting concrete sideways (with elevation changes)which I think are a safety hazard as well as a nuisance.

Where were you when Mr. Olmstead was clamoring that these driveways are dusty? He would have loved your vote before he thought differently?

Marconian writes:

Uneven surfaces prevent advanced life saving techniques...hahahahahahahaaha cant transport patience safety on shell drives.. lmao..!!!

well if that is the case about 2-million or more Americans better move off of the farms and other rural areas of America that don't have 30 thousand dollar driveways!

They say they want to save money but yet they debate nonsense like this and waste money!

council has there head in there butts whats next cut an already tiny general staff and sacrifice quality of service....That's the rumor I hear that or possibly cut there already low end pay of course this would be for the hourly employees the ones making the big bucks at the big glass building need a reality check!

kosherdeli writes:

If uneven surfaces prevent advanced life saving techniques and interfere with transporting a stretcher across them, then the Island has a very serious problem. Because during the STRP the Islands Streets involved were resurfaced 1" Higher than driveway aprons unless the aprons were damaged and replaced during construction at which time the driveway aprons were raised up 1" to accommodated the newly paved streets. Also what about when Cars are Parked Across the Sidewalks the Stretcher ride across the grass swales is a little bit rough also.

Trust me from personal experiences the Marco Islands Firemen, Paramedics, EMT’S and Ambulance Staff are some the most impeccably trained, qualified and experienced emergency workers in the country. Believe me they will transport you or your loved ones, safely in the most professional manner as possibly from point A to B just leave the Transporting and Driving Decisions Up To Them. Just Be Happy and Enjoy the Ride.

ajm3s writes:

in response to kosherdeli:

If uneven surfaces prevent advanced life saving techniques and interfere with transporting a stretcher across them, then the Island has a very serious problem. Because during the STRP the Islands Streets involved were resurfaced 1" Higher than driveway aprons unless the aprons were damaged and replaced during construction at which time the driveway aprons were raised up 1" to accommodated the newly paved streets. Also what about when Cars are Parked Across the Sidewalks the Stretcher ride across the grass swales is a little bit rough also.

Trust me from personal experiences the Marco Islands Firemen, Paramedics, EMT’S and Ambulance Staff are some the most impeccably trained, qualified and experienced emergency workers in the country. Believe me they will transport you or your loved ones, safely in the most professional manner as possibly from point A to B just leave the Transporting and Driving Decisions Up To Them. Just Be Happy and Enjoy the Ride.

We agree. And may I add, have you ever felt that your life is at risk from visiting or travelling to another town or state in this fine country we call home?

I suspect, that we all feel safe if an unforseen event occurs that requires emergency care as provided by local paramedics. The care would be above and beyond that we would expect. Why? Because the standards and protocols they follow are of a very high standard.

That is why we applaud them all, in all communities they serve, especially those who serve this fine island we call home.

zaq1 writes:

This charade should be investigated not only for the time this cost the taxpayers but for the Olmstead Murphy and Wilson-Watson perjurious testimony. These people not only lied they staged an absolute LIE. Their demonstration was not on a remotely even par with the issue at hand. Maybe this matter should be reviewed in a court of law, and shame on the political puppets that clearly became the water carriers for some coward who remains behind the scenes. Shame on you all for continuing this debacle of hearing for over two years and the spineless cowards that perpetrated it to get their Beverly Hill's Look. It becomes apparent to any outside observer that aesthetics is the issue and not public safety. These three fools should be publicly chastised and punished for staging this charade with a minimum of letter's placed into their personnel files so that others in the future will not spinelessly follow illegal orders like lemmings. If it happens again fire the next one that misrepresents or rather lies publicly to hurt another citizen. They must not be allowed to testify before a committee and absolutely lie and get away with it. Shame on the spineless cowards of City Hall.

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