More than 350 residents signed a petition to be delivered to Marco Island City Council on Monday. Their message will be that streetlights installed on Bald Eagle Drive from Angler’s Cove to Olde Marco are just wrong.
“The lights are too big, too tall and too industrial for the esthetics of Olde Marco,” said Mary Ann Maniace, who is spearheading a campaign to have them removed.
Maniace and Bernadette Powers made their case before the Beautification Advisory Committee on Wednesday. They outlined their mission to have the lights removed and replaced with ones more suited for the area.
“We want to stop any more of these hideous green things, these runway lights from being installed,” Maniace told the committee. “We need to have a plan and something everyone can agree upon.”
Barbara Murphy, beautification committee chairwoman, agreed to add the issue to the committee’s Feb. 1 agenda.
“This is part of streetscape,” she said. “This is what we’re all about, and this is part of community.”
Maniace and Powers met with the city manager and Tim Pinter, public works director, prior to attending the beautification committee meeting. They also contacted city councilors to plead for time to consider changes before all streetlights are installed.
Pinter told the women the city could suffer financial damages imposed by the contractor if it delayed the project. On Wednesday, he said the city will complete the project and then consider if changes should be made.
Maniace and Powers accused the city of not having an overall plan for street lighting. As proof, they cited the mix of lantern style streetlights and the taller pole lights on Bald Eagle Drive.
City Councilor Wayne Waldack responded via e-mail to Maniace and Powers writing he would be pleased if eventually all light fixtures in the city were the same to preserve consistency and serve an aesthetic purpose.
“We have plans for everything else from bench styles to signage, but street lighting appears to be a hodgepodge with no consistency,” Maniace said. She also asked why neither the beautification committee nor the public were allowed to give input into the design prior to installation.
City Council reviewed street lighting for Bald Eagle Drive at two public meetings held June 7 and 21. On July 19, council was presented depictions of the actual poles, fixture heads and color for the lights and approved their installation 7-0. Pinter said the public was allowed to comment at all three meetings.
“Some people (and business representatives) did comment including Rose Marina,” he said. Streetlights became an issue after two deaths from vehicular accidents in the area.
Once the poles were installed, their height and character offended those who live nearby.
Pinter agreed the 26 poles already installed stand out because there are no tall trees in the area. He believed in the Olde Marco section, the poles would integrate with trees and be less obvious.
“We do want lights. I do a lot of walking,” said Powers. She would like to see the same style lights as those on Collier Boulevard that would blend with Olde Marco’s historic nature and illuminate both sidewalk and street.
The women were frustrated when they received an e-mail from City Councilor Chuck Kiester who suggested money was the issue.
“The days of opulence for Collier Blvd. are over,” he wrote.
Pinter agreed that cost was a factor in choosing the pole lights over the lantern style.
“The concrete poles on Collier cost between $4,500 and $5,000 each,” he said. “The two piece aluminum pole bolted above the ground costs about $2,000.”
Maniace and Powers researched the less expensive poles and questioned whether they would measure up to Miami-Dade hurricane standards.
“We would not put up anything that could not withstand a Category 5 storm,” Pinter said.
The next stop for Maniace and Powers is city council’s regularly scheduled meeting on Monday. They are asking residents to wear red shirts to the meeting if they support changing the lights. City council meets at 5:30 p.m. in the community room, 51 Bald Eagle Drive.