Growing pains: Beautification Committee deals with sprinklers, swales and cul de sacs

— 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.

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Comments » 8

ajm3s writes:

I am going to have to agree with Mr. Pinter on this one. Mr. Pinter's staff has a lot of maintenance (like irrigation repairs) to do. The Beautification Committee should be laying out plans to bolster its membership by seeking volunteers to assist the city in actually providing manpower to fulfill the beautification committee's recommendations.

For example, if the Beautification Committee wants all cul-de-sacs to meet a certain standard, then may I suggest the committee not only come up with the plan but also the manpower to actualize such a plan.

We can be dreamers, and planners, but we always seem to lack the volunteers and manpower, so by default, we look for the city to get it done. Time now to get all special interest groups to get your hands dirty and play the role of the worker, as well, to complete the circle of commitment.

On this island, we seem to be keen on creating committees, but lack volunteers for getting the actual work done or contributions to pay for such work.

New slogan for the Beautification Committee: Ask not what your city can do for you, ask what you can do for your city.

WizeOlMarco writes:

New slogan for the Beautification Committee: Ask not what your city can do for you, ask what you can do for your city.
.....

I think this is an example of what 'a' Committee is trying 'to do for your city'. The Committee and City have to communicate for any project success to result. I suggest to the Committee, select a couple of projects to focus on as 'pilots'; to the City, provide resources (i.g. access to street/utility maps, staff) and adjust the City work plan for the pilot project areas to include the Committee's suggestions. In other words, instead of managing landscape maintenance as currently done, do it in a way that supports the pilot project goal. From these experince a larger scoped project can result.

“We have limited resources. It’s more important to have them do their jobs than to meet with the committee,” Pinter told them.

Though not evident by his reported comment, working with the community is part of Mr. Pinter's and crew's job.

ajm3s writes:

in response to WizeOlMarco:

New slogan for the Beautification Committee: Ask not what your city can do for you, ask what you can do for your city.
.....

I think this is an example of what 'a' Committee is trying 'to do for your city'. The Committee and City have to communicate for any project success to result. I suggest to the Committee, select a couple of projects to focus on as 'pilots'; to the City, provide resources (i.g. access to street/utility maps, staff) and adjust the City work plan for the pilot project areas to include the Committee's suggestions. In other words, instead of managing landscape maintenance as currently done, do it in a way that supports the pilot project goal. From these experince a larger scoped project can result.

“We have limited resources. It’s more important to have them do their jobs than to meet with the committee,” Pinter told them.

Though not evident by his reported comment, working with the community is part of Mr. Pinter's and crew's job.

Slight disagreement to your statement:

"instead of managing landscape maintenance as currently done, do it in a way that supports the pilot project goal"

That is the problem, these committees come up with all these "project" goals, and normal day-to-day maintenance suffers. In the real world of budgets and limited resources, we need to focus on the city-s primary responsibilities, namely maintaining its streets and public places. If you wish to win a prize for Trees, USA it will require more resources than maintenance.

My position is that the Beautification Committee has great ideas, but fails to recognize the cost of both material and human resources required. And in this town, the number of Committee members may actually exceed the number of town rank-and-file employees required to carry out its goals.

Recommendation to Beauty Committee: raise the money and get volunteers. Because in my opinion, the city is not even adequately maintaining its sidewalks, yet here is the Beautification Committee's own mission statement:

http://www.cityofmarcoisland.com/modu...

I love goal #9, conversion of rock swales to landscaped swales. Really? Beautification at the expense of water, maintenance and in contrast to the natural environment of a barrier island with seashells.

Imagine, no seashells allowed in a swale on a seashell island, and it is against current code of ordinances.

Focus on fundamentals before we embark on a elaborate mission statement with elaborate landscaping design!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I love this city, but I would love it more if Committees would balance goals with available resources. If there are shortfalls, then provide private sources. Because in essence, your mission statement exceeds what I would expect all citizens need to support. There is another recently formed committee that rose above it all to soar like eagles, which I believe should serve as a model for the Beautification and other committees.

If you want a suggestion for goal #9, may I suggest shell swales; there cheap, cost absolutely nothing to maintain and require no fertilizer. But then again, what I think is beautiful is not unanimously held by the Beautification Committee or perhaps the island at large. However, I do not have a mission statement to guide me, I just want to live here without intrusions of city wide planning defining what is beautiful. Unless of course, we rename this island Stepford, FL.

marcofriend writes:

As we have been told so many times, the swales are actually the City's property. People should quit watering their swales. If everyone's swale turns brown and dies, perhaps the City would sharpen up and allow shells to be used. Certainly when the STRP went through and we watch our water rates double and triple, and our reuse water being directed to the hotels and condos, why would we want to be charged for potable water just to water the City's swale. This whole irrigation issue has gotten out of hand along with the sewer rates.

WizeOlMarco writes:

Thanks for the link to the Beautification Committee. The City is spending resources on landscape maintenance, why not redirect some of the same money/labor to try selected parts of the Beautification Committee plan...wouldn't this be fiscally neutral? What piqued my senses was the City cutting off communication with the Committee. Your notes suggest it might be wasted effort and resources to pursue resident suggestions outside the City political channels, a learning experience for me, a newcomer revealed.

ajm3s writes:

in response to WizeOlMarco:

Thanks for the link to the Beautification Committee. The City is spending resources on landscape maintenance, why not redirect some of the same money/labor to try selected parts of the Beautification Committee plan...wouldn't this be fiscally neutral? What piqued my senses was the City cutting off communication with the Committee. Your notes suggest it might be wasted effort and resources to pursue resident suggestions outside the City political channels, a learning experience for me, a newcomer revealed.

I do not believe Mr. Pinter was cutting off communication, but simply expressing his need to have his staff attend to maintenance issues; and he would be the city representative for issues raised by the Beautification Committee. He did not feel it was prudent to have other members of his staff in attendance given the limited resources we face as municipalities, counties and for that matter, even in running our own homes.

On this point, I will support Mr. Pinter. However, as you stated, where redirection of labor and materials is appropriate, then we are in agreement. However, if you read the Beautification Committee's mission statement, they for the most part, require additional cost. That is why I raised the issue of swale recommendations, item #9, as an example.

And to your point with regard to a learning experience, I would like to welcome you to this island.

If you wish get up to speed, may I recommend joining one of the many citizen groups on the island: MITA, MI Homeowners, MICA. They provide information for those that do not have the opportunity to attend city council meetings or a host of city committee agendas. These groups have offered recommendations to city council on many occasions.

If you want to make a difference, join a citizens' organization; for your voice to be heard, numbers (memberships) matter.

These groups provide a concise review of pending issues to keep the folks informed, especially with a property owners perspective. In fact, some political forces actually find these citizen groups as a barrier to "development" and "revenue enhancement".

Marconian writes:

in response to marcofriend:

As we have been told so many times, the swales are actually the City's property. People should quit watering their swales. If everyone's swale turns brown and dies, perhaps the City would sharpen up and allow shells to be used. Certainly when the STRP went through and we watch our water rates double and triple, and our reuse water being directed to the hotels and condos, why would we want to be charged for potable water just to water the City's swale. This whole irrigation issue has gotten out of hand along with the sewer rates.

Not going to work it is in the city ordinance that you don't own the property but ultimately are responsible for its care so all that would accomplish is s fine and one ugly swale in front of your house that you would have to pay to have refurbished.

Marconian writes:

in response to WizeOlMarco:

New slogan for the Beautification Committee: Ask not what your city can do for you, ask what you can do for your city.
.....

I think this is an example of what 'a' Committee is trying 'to do for your city'. The Committee and City have to communicate for any project success to result. I suggest to the Committee, select a couple of projects to focus on as 'pilots'; to the City, provide resources (i.g. access to street/utility maps, staff) and adjust the City work plan for the pilot project areas to include the Committee's suggestions. In other words, instead of managing landscape maintenance as currently done, do it in a way that supports the pilot project goal. From these experince a larger scoped project can result.

“We have limited resources. It’s more important to have them do their jobs than to meet with the committee,” Pinter told them.

Though not evident by his reported comment, working with the community is part of Mr. Pinter's and crew's job.

No what they are doing, what ever you want to call it. is coming up with ideas for beautification they also need to provide the labor for their ideas not say we did a service...aka ideas now you guys do the work...act on your own ideas not pass the buck. anyone can come up with ideas.

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