MARCO ISLAND — A budget request by the Marco Island Beautification Advisory Committee (BAC) to maintain the city’s more than 300 cul-de-sacs may have hit a snag. At a meeting in preparation of the 2012 fiscal year budget, parks and recreation director Bryan Milk, the committee’s staff liaison, requested that the budget subcommittee approve $44,200 to maintain the 302 cul-de-sacs, many of which violate the city’s own ordinances for un-mowed grass and lack of upkeep.
The BAC, which has taken on the task of cleaning up cul-de-sacs for the past year, made the request because so many of the residential areas are overgrown. Committee members inventoried all of the city’s 302 cul-de-sacs and found that 67 percent are in violation of code. The city owns the cul-de-sacs, however some residents have taken it upon themselves to keep the areas attractive at their own expense.
Milk stated that his staff and the city’s contracted landscaping company do not have the resources or budget to attend to all of the cul-de-sacs. Committee members said that only 70 of 207 targeted areas have been improved this year. Lee County Electrical Cooperative (LCEC), which provides utilities to the island, recently completed a tree trimming project recommended by the BAC in cul-de-sac areas that were considered potential safety hazards. Part of the proposed BAC budget would have also allowed city workers and its contractors to trim trees and bushes in cul-de-sac areas that might interfere with a driver’s line of sight.
Chairman Syd Mellinger said she’s upset that the city is in violation of its own ordinances.
“Taxpayers are being held to one standard and the city to another,” she told fellow committee members at the BAC’s regularly scheduled meeting on Wednesday, July 6.
Perhaps more upsetting to members was Milk’s acknowledgement that budget subcommittee members did not wish to hear Milk’s presentation, which explained in more detail the reason for the request and how the monies, if approved, would be spent.
“They (the budget subcommittee) cannot deal with something by not listening,” stated the BAC’s incoming vice chair Susan LaGrotta.
Milk expressed understanding of the budget committee’s financial concerns, noting that many spending options are being re-considered and that council members are trying to be conservative in tight economic times.
Other BAC members shared concern that if the city does not get a handle on the overgrown areas because of financial concerns, the island will slowly lose its reputation for manicured lawns and gardens, a reputation recently validated by the island’s status as a finalist in Rand McNally and USA Today’s America’s Most Beautiful Town competition.
“If you defer this for years, we’ll be back to square one,” added member Sandi Johnson.
The budget subcommittee will make its recommendation opposing cul-de-sac funding to city council, which can go along with the group’s advice or decide the issue is important enough to add to the island’s 2012 budget.
New officers elected
At its meeting, the Beautification Advisory Committee elected Barb Murphy its new chairperson to fill the seat vacated by Mellinger, who has served three consecutive terms as chair and will continue as a committee member.
Murphy, who was vice chair, turns over her officer position to Susan La Grotta.