PHOTOS: Marco council wrestles with seawalls, new fire station and bridge construction

Marco Island’s City Council met Monday, with the question of seawall repairs front and center.

First, they took care of some other business. In the community forum portion of the agenda, homeowner Toni Jessen complained about contracting work, including seawalls, being conducted near her house. Councilman Jerry Gibson asked City Manager Jim Riviere to look into her concerns.

Bryan Milk gave a report on City Parks and Recreation special events procedures. A special events team, he said, has met for six months, to update policy for public events at Veterans, Mackle and Winterberry parks.

“We want to know if there is a wedding on the beach over 25. My goal is to have the City Council approve our policy,” said Milk.

Chairman Frank Recker said the plan is ambiguous and vague. “ I can’t support this. I want more specificity, and as little government intrusion as possible.”

“It blew my mind when I first looked at this. I don’t think we need 18 pages of guidelines on this,” said Councilman Chuck Kiester of the public events policy.

“This needs some serious work. We’re going to send this back to the team. I don’t like government having the discretion to interpret something the way they want to,” said Recker.

The council took up several issues having to do with new construction, maintenance and repair work on an increasingly crowded Island. First up was the second reading on the proposed seawall repair ordinance.

City Planner Kris Van Lengen took the council through a discussion of changes proposed to the ordinance on its first reading. The 120-day permit for using a vacant lot as a staging area is to be used for active seawall work, not storage. A six-foot high screen fence is to be erected around the area to remove seawall materials if it is not in a container, and barges are limited to 15 days idle at one location.

The issue led to some sharp exchanges between the councilmen.

“I would like to see this burned up,” said Frank Recker. For a homeowner receiving notice, it is a nightmare, referring to it as 120 days of hell. “Contractors love it, vacant lot owners love it. I would like to see the marketplace decide how much money will be saved by not using these vacant lots as factories.”

“You’re suggesting we don’t need an ordinance?” asked Kiester.

“I think you’re being a little hysterical when you call them factories,” added Gibson.

Brian Gilmore, of Collier Seawall & Dock, said, “We’ll be happy to follow any rules you guys want. If it’s red-tagged, if it’s failed, it’s gotta be done. The cost is going to skyrocket.”

“How many times have we gone through this? I think tonight is almost a disgrace,” said civic activist Faye Biles, who bought a crate just to hold documents relating to seawall replacement.

Marco resident Franklin Lacy made a sales pitch, touting his invention, which he said would make a seawall that would last to the year 3000. “I figure you can build these for about half the cost of present seawalls. I’m a problem solver,” he said.

On councilman Wayne Waldack’s motion, the ordinance was approved 5-2, with Councilmen Magel and Recker opposed.

Use of vacant lots for construction on adjacent or nearby lots also provoked argument.

Some sites, because of unique shape, require special consideration, said Van Lengen. With a pie-shaped lot, things get backed up into the street, or you might be trying to protect a heritage tree. Off-site staging can be allowed with written permission of property owner and notification of nearby residents.

Once again, Chairman Recker had strong concerns. He proposed limiting the ordinance to lots within 150 feet of the construction they are supporting, and the language was added.

“I can’t believe you have staging for 24 consecutive months” when building a house, commented Councilman Larry Magel. The ordinance was voted on, and passed unanimously.

Patricia Bliss, city finance director, led discussion of budget re-appropriation for fiscal year 2009-10, a loan application to the State Revolving Fund, and paying off a $405,000 bond.

Councilman Trotter urged getting better at budgeting upfront, rather than reconciling afterward. Magel asked why the city is sitting on $32 million, while borrowing money at the same time.

Trotter introduced an item requesting the MPO to add widening of San Marco Road to the 2035 Long-Range Transportation Plan, which was adopted unanimously.

Contracts were awarded on sewer construction for two additional districts, with Kiester dissenting. Prices for the work have come down significantly, said utilities director Rony Joel.

Public works director Tim Pinter said the Hernando Bridge is in an emergency situation, with temporary pilings holding it together. He recommended awarding of a contract to repair it, after engineering and nine bids received. The low bid of $355,000, still 20 percent over the engineers’ estimate, came from Anzac Contractors.

“It seems a heck of a time to start bridge construction,” said Recker. Waldack suggested putting off the work until April. With that stipulation, the motion passed.

Contracts were also awarded for water treatment consulting services, and purchase of quick lime for the water treatment system. The city uses 1,500 tons per year.

Fire Chief Mike Murphy reported that Collier County EMS has agreed to provide three firefighter/EMTs, one per shift, to augment Marco Island’s safety personnel. Along with a fire truck and emergency transport vehicle, said Murphy, this represented a $300,000 to 400,000 savings from the city’s budget, while providing improved service.

The additional staff and vehicles would be housed at Station 51 on Elkcam Circle, which would be improved under the plan. Exhaust fans and new doors would help deal with exhaust problems, and windows would be upgraded. Collier County has agreed to share the cost of the renovations, Murphy said.

This would reduce Marco’s dependence on outside agencies, and reduce response times. Seasonal call volume has already increased, he said. Promotions for three drivers and three captains associated with the move would cost approximately $115,000 per year.

“Why do I have to have these promotions?” asked Magel. The answer, said Murphy, is the responsibility and liability the firefighters take on. Councilman Joe Batte said it rubs him the wrong way having promotions in just the fire department, with none in other city departments.

“You’re still serving the same need,” said Riviere, just splitting that need between two stations. Council, with Kiester dissenting, asked Riviere to provide the service at minimal expense.

“My job,” said Riviere, “is to spin gold from straw.”

After being called to order at 5:30 p.m., the meeting adjourned at 9:55. The last council meeting of the year is scheduled for Dec. 6.

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Comments » 11

August8 writes:

"Riviere"--- Very, very cute remark, but an offer by the county creates promotions in the Fire Dept in this enviornment, please?? Murphy is an empire builder, a true politician and should not be allowed to create promotions based on the County Generousity, no way. Perhaps the County should be given the whole job??

happy6 writes:

let's see....brian milk has had a "team" studying the "special events" guidlines for 6 i understand why he needed another a--'t in mr galiana....he works real slow or hardly at all.

JohninMarco writes:

Promoted firemen do not fight the fire. Ask the Chief, even he will tell you that they are supervisors. I quess this is a backdoor way to hire more employees.

ajm3s writes:

Mr. Murphy are your requesting this refurbishment and additional equipment and manpower from the county and job promotions of existing city fire fighters as a NEED or a WANT?

And to the county why not place the EMT accouterments in a location that the county deems as a need, and quit trying to dupe Marco Island Council into another leverage scheme.

So let me understand this new scenario. If you move personnel a mile down the road to handle the same equipment they become more responsible? Why? It must be a union work rule that other city employees do not have.

Under this scenario I suggest we do not move any city employees to other locations. And if Mr. Murphy keeps insisting that other communities are spending too much time in Marco Island then I suggest you must be remiss in your use of county roads to bring folks to the hospital for treatment in Collier County as you drive pass Isles of Capri and East Naples.

This smacks of empire building, it is so obvious that you do not wish to be a team player with outlying communities. So much for the mutual aid philosophy.

ajm3s writes:

in response to Klabautermann:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

What consequences? There is a balancing act when cities review the cost impact of improvements. But when it relates to safety issue, the consequences are interpreted with fear.

And having been raised in a family involved with municipal safety issues, let me present the latest consequence which does not typically reach the ears of citizens, be it in another town.

When a Deputy Chief is presented with 10 engine company accidents in traffic of which 4 are the result of one driver, the Deputy Chief requests removing that individual from these responsibilities. The official response, the city cannot due to union rules of employment, so the driver remains in the same position.

How is that for an example of consequences, that cannot be addressed to improve the safety of safety personnel as well as citizens. See this is the stuff that most cities face, but citizens are duped into believing that we are getting the best out of safety management and rank and file. I have seen it all and believe me, this is just one of many examples and discussions that grace our kitchen table.

In this city, it appears to be empire building and Mr. Murphy will use whatever means at his disposal to expand, regardless of the financial constraints, as officially expressed by our city manager. In the end, if we expand one department, than given limited funding, another department suffers.

This is a example of city directors competing for funds and using leverage schemes or sheer political and municipal cunning to move his agenda forward.

It is simple, if it is not a NEED, then forgo the request regardless of county leverage schemes. Remember, in my example, Council cannot change union rules for employment that impact safety, but they surely can control spending. So please Council, I ask for financial prudence. At least 5 of you demonstrated that in your vote.

On the eve of a major shift in citizen perception of government/reform that will usher in new members at all levels of government, I would like to believe that Marco Island governance would take heed of the message resonating throughout the land- NO MORE SPENDING.

ajm3s writes:

in response to Klabautermann:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Sorry K, Mr. Murphy is responsible for safety. And his credibility is in question because of his past positions and rationale for safety in several instances.

1.On the shell driveway issue he actually claimed that his personnel would be impacted in their ability to handle a gurney. THAT IS ABSURDITY.

2. He claimed that the water truck and addition of three firefighters was an interim solution to the lack of fire hydrants. But when questioned by Mr. Batte if the hydrants could be installed in 60 days, he responded that he would still make the requisition, thereby providing evidence that the interim solution was just a ruse.

3. And now we have Station 51.

Any idiot can make recommendations to spend monies. They real leaders work in a resource limited environment and do not lament to the community of the impending doom.

All this points to a Chief that is unable to manage with constraints. It is so obvious. Now the Council has to deal with another issue that could easily be addressed within the department if Mr. Murphy had the skills. It is unbelievable that he complains of the benefits of mutual aid.

mymommd writes:

Police Department cuts, Fire Department promotes and hires. What the heck is going on here.

tnjessen writes:

Lance Shearer - I find it very disheartening that you provided Marco residents with my name as a resident and stating that I had complaints about a contractor working near my house. NOT!

You need to clean your ears out, get a new profression or commit to writing with accuracy. I stood up in front of council way too long and way too emotional for you to have missed the boat. Could this possibly be a political issue or maybe too controversial?

I presented serious questions to the council members in regards to the building department, their processes and documentation or lack of. I spoke of the contractor Marco Marine Construction.

A paper needs to report responsibly and accurately.

Toni Jessen

waverunner writes:

Bottom line, the FD DOES NOT need station 51 for a quick response. If they can not handle an emergency on the island from where they are situated now, perhaps they should close up shop, period.

Maybe a volunteer department should be formed, and volunteers would be given a substantial cut in property taxes if they volunteer (if you really are serious, volunteers would get a bigger discount on their taxes depending on the amount of calls they respond to). I bet you would get enough people to handle the calls, and I'm no math major but I bet it would cost a lot less than the current system.

ajm3s writes:

Waverunner: Please do not provide suggestions to the city without the authorization of the Fire Chief. He's the chief of information, in fact, he is quite the presenter. LOL

Here is another tidbit that Mr. Murphy did not clarify in his bar graph or perhaps I missed, showing amount of calls along with his response time: does it include the police who typically arrive on scene and may in fact precede the Advanced Life Support (ALS) team and act as Basic Life Support (BLS). Why you ask? They are mobile and can be anywhere at any specific time. In fact, many municipalities now provide cardiac defibrillators to police because many communities have found that first responders even less trained than ALS responders have made a difference in providing early intervention. Again, why you ask? Well, its less costly than manning remote stations with drugs etc. yet provides more personnel with life saving capabilities.

In fact, just over city border in North Naples, the county is denying ALS to firefighters.

And in another commentary article from Dr.James N. Hampton, M.D. recently submitted in the Naples Daily News dated Oct. 22, 2010:

"Article after article in the medical journals have repeatedly stated that an emergency medical system should have a two-tiered program of first response (lay public, fire and police) followed by advanced life support AND that the advanced life support should be provided by a SMALL contingent of paramedics who frequently and constantly are making medical decisions. Otherwise, the cadre of medics becomes rusty, ineffectual, and more prone to error . Tober works on the widely accepted notion that a busy medic makes the best medic."

So may I ask the Fire Chief, are police included as first responders because they are part of the emergency response team on this island? I did not hear you acknowledge their presence or partnership in emergency situations. It may have been an oversight.

ajm3s writes:

in response to Klabautermann:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I believe we agree that city management AND city council are involved. In fact, the Council voted that the city come back with a proposal that ideally would not require pay upgrades. And the Chief was not happy, he stumbled through every standard defense of compensation that I have heard so many times before. And one city manager i.e. Fire Chief, is having difficulty in accepting anything less then the proposal he provided.

Was it me or was it the texting on his mobile phone, that he engages in during the meeting that distracts him, and perhaps explains his dismay at the Council's request.

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