Hoisting the big flag is raising a few big issues for the city’s newest named group, the Big Flag Committee. Marco Island City Council approved and appointed the committee at its Dec. 5 meeting after residents asked to place the flag under the city’s umbrella. The city previously approved a permit for the flag’s installation.
By becoming an arm of the city, the group will be able to install the flag on city-owned property, raise funds audited through the city’s finance department and be relieved of any liabilities. But becoming part of government also means working under Sunshine Laws, holding public meetings and creating transparency in all financial and in-kind donations.
On Dec. 30, committee members met for the first time with city staff to learn how their communications and meetings will become public record. City Clerk Laura Litzan gave a brief presentation on Florida’s law regarding government conduct, then gave committee members Dave Rice, Keith Dameron and Dick Shanahan written guidelines. Absent from the committee were Leo Sutera and Litha Berger.
The committee deferred naming a chairman and vice chairman until its next scheduled meeting. Its first order of business was announcing the big flag’s pole, fittings and furnishing were in city hands. The flag will be permanently placed in the second median on the Marco Island side of the Judge S.S. Jolley Bridge.
Tim Pinter, public works director, expressed concerns about digging the foundation for the ground sleeve to hold the pole. Committee members believed the hole needed to reach a depth of 7-8 feet. Pinter explained that excavation would be hampered by groundwater approximately 3 feet below the median’s surface. Digging deeper than 3 feet could cause the hole to collapse and possibly affect Collier Boulevard.
The committee discussed using some kind of sheeting, similar to that used for excavating traffic signal poles, to stabilize dirt and hold back groundwater. Pinter reminded the committee that its permit was good for one year, so there would be time to consider options before deciding how to install the pole.
Another unknown during excavation is the location of conduits that might be below the median such as cable or electric lines. Pinter was fairly sure all water lines were located to the side of the road rather than through the medians.
The committee hoped Lee County Electric Cooperative power lines were under the median or nearby. Committee members are currently discussing ways to obtain power for the site from the electric company. The committee plans to explore solar power as another option.
The group hopes to raise $8,000-$10,000 through public donations to fund expenses and replacement flags. Committee members estimated three flags per year would be required.
Rice, Dameron and Shanahan said they were pleased with the way the first meeting progressed.
“We’re starting to bring some structure to this process,” Dameron said.
The Marco Island Sunrise Rotary Club and Marco Island VFW have asked to donate the first flag, but the committee agreed it was premature to make such a decision.
Once the accounting process is in place, the committee plans to give the public formal notification. If a person our group wants to step up, that would be the time to do so, Dameron said.
The next meeting of the Big Flag Committee is scheduled for 2 p.m., Jan. 13, in City Hall’s 1st floor conference room, 50 Bald Eagle Drive.