MARCO ISLAND — The first of item of business on the City Council agenda was the first item off the agenda. While the issue of miniature golf on Park Avenue has been discussed at Council, not to mention the Planning Board, before, some residents of Sunset Cove didn’t feel they had heard all they needed to about the proposal, said Councilman Chuck Kiester, and the Council agreed to defer approving the project.
“The manager of Sunset Cove said she wanted input on lights and hours,” said Kiester. “Five units have windows looking out over the area, and it’s unclear whether owners, renters, whatever have been notified.”
“People in that area have really taken a beating,” said Councilman Joe Batte. “Folks feel we don’t give them enough information, or he chance to express their feelings.” Perhaps the Council felt they had themselves taken a beating on lighting issues, and the matter was continued to the next meeting.
Collier County Coastal Zone Manager Gary McAlpin spoke to the Council, giving an update on beach renourishment plans for the island. He included three projects in his presentation: Marco South beach renourishment, dredging Collier Creek, and laser grading of Sand Dollar Island.
“You’re very fortunate” on Marco Island, McAlpin told the Council. “Most of your beaches don’t erode” – except for at the southern tip of the island.
The county, he said, plans to spend between $3 and $4 million on beach renourishment on Marco, with some of the money coming via a grant from FEMA. $1.8 million will pay to put sand, 104,000 cubic yards of sand, on the beach, and an additional $1.2 million will go to erect and maintain structures such as groins and breakwaters. The work will be done, said McAlpin, “in the next two years – maybe sooner. We will renourish the beach completely.”
Since studies indicate the beach will lose 50 percent of its sand over 3-4 years, the additional $1 million, not yet committed, will go for IBM, or incremental beach renourishment, with 25,000 yards of sand delivered by truck to augment the major renourishment project and extend its life.
“The path to hell is paved with good intentions,” remarked City Council Chairman Jerry Gibson. “How solid is this commitment? Marco’s beaches are very important to the city.”
“I don’t anticipate a problem,” replied McAlpin.
Arts Advisory Committee member JoAnn Sanborn spoke to the city, requesting funds for a toned-down Arts Afire! event. Not at first inclined to grant the request, they relented when Councilman Joe Batte pointed out the committee is not an outside group, but an extension of city government.
“You’ve got the winning argument. We started this,” said Vice Chairman Larry Magel.
Councilman Frank Recker warned “this precedent may come back to bite us,” but nevertheless voted to approve. The lone dissent in the 6-1 vote came from Councilman Bill Trotter.
Noting that a member of the city’s Bicycle Path Committee had been struck by a motorist “rolling through a stop sign,” Phil Kostelnik, wearing a neon green cycling shirt, spoke to the Council to plead for tougher regulations to ensure bicycle safety. City attorney Burt Saunders pointed out that while the city can enforce parking regulations to keep UPS trucks and landscapers’ vehicles out of the right of way, it has no jurisdiction to regulate drivers’ actions, including talking or texting on cell phones.
David Gretsch requested help in keeping storm drains open to alleviate street flooding. And the Council recognized two Fire-Rescue employees, Capt. Dean Heasley and Battalion Chief Scott Schultz, for 30 years of service – considerably longer than the City of Marco Island has been in existence.
Council’s next meeting will be in Town Hall format, with citizens encouraged to ask questions, scheduled for Jan. 23.