MARCO ISLAND — Three city councilors, the city manager and a representative of Olde Marco attended the Beautification Advisory Committee meeting Wednesday. A comprehensive lighting plan for Marco Island was tops on the agenda.
Marco Island’s City Council tasked the advisory committee with developing a master plan for streetlights. Councilors weighed in on that task at the committee’s meeting. The committee will be developing the plan over time, a process that could take a number of months.
Council Vice Chairman Joe Batte spoke on the value the committee could bring to council by forming its plan without influence by special interest groups. He also asked the committee to build its plan on good technical reasoning.
“I cannot give good information to people without a recommendation,” Batte said. “They will respect our opinion if we have a comprehensive well-reasoned plan for why we decided what we did.”
Batte urged committee members to use city staff to coordinate data collection. Public Works Director Tim Pinter, city liaison to the committee, offered to supply a lighting consultant to educate committee members on streetlight requirements. Additionally, he will give members lighting ordinances and citywide plans that might affect streetlight decisions including the new downtown plan directed by Joe Irvin, city zoning administrator.
Batte said the integration of the committee and council would be key to the plan’s success.
“Let council give ongoing feedback,” he said. “You deserve that.”
Council Chairman Larry Magel echoed Batte’s suggestions.
“Joe’s right on,” he said. “You need to make your decisions on objective criteria: Pedestrian counts, auto counts.”
Committee members asked questions of council and city staff to help focus their assignment. Developing auto counts would take time, Pinter said. Collier County counted traffic on Marco’s streets until 2005 when the practice was discontinued due to cost. The city recently purchased four traffic counting systems.
Pedestrians are generally counted by sight, using an hour’s worth of tallies to mathematically build a pedestrian profile, Pinter said. The committee felt with season winding down, it might need to wait to develop higher volume tallies when more people are on the island.
Barbara Murphy, the committee’s chairwoman, suggested using South Collier Boulevard as a benchmark. Lighting was completed in the area two years ago. Development on South Collier Boulevard is primarily residential with lights spaced approximately 225 feet apart on the left side of the road juxtaposed by on-center lights on the right side that divide the distance.
Murphy described the South Collier Boulevard lighting as subdued but sufficient. She also said she discussed lighting with Nancy Ritchie, the city’s environmental specialist, to determine the effects of “urban glow” on sea turtles, nesting birds and other species.
Bernadette Powers, representing Olde Marco, said she had hoped lighting in her area could have been resolved after council knew it had a surplus of Collier-style lights. She shared photographs of Marco Lake light fixture footings that showed settling, a problem she described as hazardous. Representatives of the Olde Marco area have been lobbying council to desist with the Marco Lake fixtures and use the Collier-style lights instead.
The beautification committee decided to set aside time for a workshop to concentrate solely on the lighting plan. A tentative date of Wednesday, April 18, was discussed pending conference room availability.
The next regularly scheduled meeting of the Beautification Advisory Committee will be held at 3 p.m., May 2, in City Hall’s 1st floor conference room, 50 Bald Eagle Drive.