MARCO ISLAND — Public Works Director Tim Pinter got into a little hot water right away. At his first meeting as official point man and staff liaison with the City of Marco Island’s Beautification Committee on Nov. 2, Pinter delivered some unwelcome news.
The committee had been accustomed to having city staffers and landscaping contractors attend their monthly meetings, the better to answer questions and engage in free-flowing discussions. Pinter informed the members that would no longer be the case.
“We have limited resources. It’s more important to have them do their jobs than to meet with the committee,” Pinter told them.
The ladies of the committee were not pleased. We’ve had good, open communication, said chairperson Barbara Murphy. The committee wants the actual workers there.
“You’ll still get the same reports,” Pinter said, “just from me.”
With this, the Beautification Committee moved on, to discussion of medians, swales, sprinklers, cul de sacs, the Judge S.S. Jolley Bridge landscaping, and new horticultural activity in Jane Hittler Park.
In the last month, Pinter reported, the city had replaced 37 sprinkler heads on Collier Blvd. With approximately 3,700 in place on that stretch of road, that proportion is not unreasonable, he told the committee.
“Two weeks ago, I saw staff out in the rain, herbiciding or spreading, and the sprinklers were on,” said committee member Linda Colombo, the newest addition to the group. “Who do we call if we see something like that?”
You would call the city’s public works department, the same as any citizen, said Pinter, explaining that at the incident in question, the rain sensor had malfunctioned, and the system was being worked on. “We got a number of calls on that,” he said.
Shrubs have been dying in Jane Hittler Park, along the Smokehouse Bay Bridge.
“We’ll come back with a presentation on that,” said Pinter, but was told by Murphy the committee would like to have input on the matter.
Pinter mentioned that City Council had approved the second phase of the new bridge design, and reconstruction will impact the park – for the third time – and it will become a work area for a time.
“With Jane’s legacy of color and beauty, maybe annuals” would be the way to keep the park looking nice without putting in a lot of expensive plantings that would then be torn out again, said Murphy. Colombo suggested beach sunflowers, and pointed out that vegetation must be salt-tolerant, as the park gets salt spray.
The landscaping on Marco’s side of the Jolley Bridge has been finalized and accepted by the city, said Pinter, so the one-year warranty period for plantings and irrigation system is running. On the proposed Big Flag at the foot of the bridge, the committee expressed an interest in what would go around the installation, and Chairman Murphy said she wanted to see a rendering.
The group continued their discussion of what plantings are acceptable in swales, notching up the interest level around the table, with sunshine mimosa and perennial peanut spoken of highly, in addition to sod, which, said Pinter, is also permissible. Asiatic jasmine was regarded less favorably, and city environmental specialist Nancy Richie pointed out coral creeper is a listed invasive species.
“A swale has a water quality and a stormwater function,” she said. An acceptable has to meet several criteria, said Murphy: Can you drive on it? Does it filter? Does it spread? Pinter said gravel is not allowed, and the relevant city ordinance is being changed to make that clear.
On cul de sacs, the committee has created a list of the 100 worst, most in need of beautification, and agreed to use that list to prioritize work, rather than going in immediately after STRP work has torn up the streets. The group said they could not give exact dates for the Marco in Bloom events, until Council meeting dates for the new year are firmed up.
The Beautification Committee’s own next meeting is scheduled for the “date that will live in infamy,” Dec. 7, at City Hall.