MARCO ISLAND — For now, the new span of Marco Island’s Judge S.S. Jolley Bridge will not be renamed. Rumors on the island that a group was seeking to name the span for the late Mike Minozzi, Jr., appeared to be exaggerated.
John Arceri, a past city councilor, did request Marco Island adopt a resolution Monday night that would dedicate the span to Minozzi for his work in getting the project shovel ready to receive federal funds.
Arceri was clear that his recommendation was not for naming rights. Instead, he suggested a plaque on the span as a way of showing “a high level of recognition” for someone he believed guided the bridge’s planning from inception to fruition.
Arceri, and others who spoke on behalf of Minozzi, asked council to accept a resolution dedicating the second span in Minozzi’s name by affixing the plaque on the Marco Island side of the bridge. Arceri also said he hoped to get the Florida Department of Transportation involved in the dedication.
Councilor Chuck Kiester expressed concern about other necessary approvals from government bodies including Collier County Commissioners and the Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO). Councilors also doubted the value of a plaque considering size and limited visibility.
Arceri assured them his recommendation would be going before the FDOT and would not be a problem for other local governments. Councilor Jerry Gibson point out that the new span will include a walking and biking path, so passersby could stop and read the plaque even if motorist could not.
Community speaker Jack Patterson said the value of such recognition was not the plaque’s size but its intent.
“We’re not naming the bridge, we’re memorializing the effort,” he said.
That effort included Minozzi’s relentless push to keep the project alive and a high priority in Florida even in tough economic times. Minozzi was described as a “whistleblower,” exposing the dangerous condition of the existing span.
“This project was not very well received,” said public speaker George Schroll. “Mike constantly fought to keep this moving.”
Lawyer Craig Woodward, a longtime resident of Marco Island, urged council to support the resolution.
“Mike went to the MPO meetings and fought for Marco Island with the county and the state,” he said. “He fought for the bridge to move up in the priority list. We were fortunate because of the work Mike did.”
One speaker felt the recognition was undeserved since Minozzi also favored a toll on the bridge.
Lawyer Bill Morris joined Woodward in expressing admiration for the work Minozzi did in spearheading the project that was later funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.
“He set the table. The federal government served the meal,” Morris said. “A plaque is more than recognition. We cannot give Mike anything because he’s gone. But we can show appreciation for good deeds. It’s also an important part of Marco Island’s history.”
Although council discussed concern about circumventing naming procedures already in place for the city, it determined that a plaque on the bridge did not require further scrutiny and passed the resolution unanimously.
Mike Stapleton, a friend of Minozzi, summed up the community’s desire to honor him.
“The harder Mike worked, the luckier we got,” he said.