Key Marco has the welcome mat out for responsible bicyclists.
Kevin Carter, representative for the Key Marco Association, delivered that promise Friday to Marco Island’s Bike Path Ad-hoc Volunteer Committee. Carter explained that a newly installed gate was not a prohibition for those wishing to pass. The gate has been in place for approximately two weeks. What the gate signals is a change in method for passing into the gated community, he said.
“We want to know who is in the community to protect the integrity of the community,” Carter explained. For that reason, security changes require all cyclists to sign in and have a photo taken at the gatehouse before entering.
“We have three high profile residents who are professional athletes,” Carter told the committee. “People have been known to come in on bikes and then show up at the athletes’ doors.”
Other people bike in and go to the community’s docks for picnics, he said. That behavior is completely prohibited.
Key Marco was annexed by the city in 2004 and is a planned unit development (PUD) like Hideaway Beach. Residents of Key Marco own and maintain their roads and can block entry to non-residents. But the area shares a public history dating back to the late 19th century.
Then, the area was known as Horr’s Island, for Capt. John T. Horr, a Civil War veteran who established a pineapple plantation there. Horr also constructed a vacation residence in the late 1800s. The ruins of that building lie within Key Marco’s boundaries. The house was added to the U.S. Register of Historic Places in 1997.
Additionally, three Native American mounds lie within the community. Archeologists have dated artifacts found around the mounds from 500 B.C.
The new gate and sign-up requirements are in place to make sure people know the rules, Carter said. The committee asked if riders who frequent the area could wear some kind of identification badge.
“Every gate person lives on Marco Island,” Carter said. If cyclists go through frequently, they can let the guards know the last date and time they entered so gatekeepers can access their files.
“Residents have been nothing but friendly,” said committee member Lisa Schmidtfrerick Miller, who bicycles in the Key Marco community. Other committee members hoped cyclists would be as courteous as Key Marco’s residents and take into account they are riding on private property at the invitation of its owners.
In other business, a date for Tour de Marco has not been finalized, but Jim Seegers, committee liaison, said he was “93.5-percent assured” it would be held on April 1. This will be the event’s second year and is sponsored by the Greater Marco Family YMCA with all proceeds going to the Y.
The committee discussed approaching Marco Island’s City Council to request money for bike lane maintenance. Tim Pinter, public works director, explained that Marco Island did not have real bike lanes but rather widened shoulders that were called bike lanes.
Since city council did not put money in its 2012 budget to fund road maintenance, the paved shoulders also were not funded. City Councilor Wayne Waldack was present at the committee meeting and confirmed Pinter’s statement.
“City council has been listening to its citizens and what it hears is: ‘We want lower taxes,’” he said. If maintaining roads and widened shoulders is a priority, then council should be hearing that citizens want to protect infrastructure.
The committee will ask city council to consider funding for bike lane/shoulder repair and maintenance in its fiscal year 2013 budget.