MARCO ISLAND — For the world, April 22 is Earth Day. For Marco Island this year, it will be Bike Day.
Members of the City of Marco Island Bike Path Ad Hoc Committee, taxed with handling all topics bicycle-related, confirmed at their meeting on Friday, Jan. 13 that they will hold a second running of the Tour de Marco bicycle event, with April 22 the target date. With Chairman Al Musico absent, the bike committee meeting, in the Niles conference room at City Hall, was led by Vice Chairman Victor Ordija.
Unlike last year’s inaugural Tour, which was headquartered in Veterans Community Park, the ride this year will begin and end at YMCA headquarters on San Marco Road. Steve Reynolds from the Y was in attendance, and confirmed the Y, who is the beneficiary of funds raised from the event, would work well, with restrooms, shelter from the elements, and room for plenty of bicyclists.
Committee member Jim Seegers gave the group an update on the “almost endless list of things to do when you run an event of this caliber.” Posters, publicity, coordination with government and public safety agencies, forms including registration, obtaining refreshments and prizes and signage were some of the items to be considered, he said, along with scheduling.
“The police say you need to stress this is a ride, and not a race,” said Seegers. With the shortest, 5-mile loop eliminated, this year’s ride will include two distances – 15 and 30 miles.
“If it’s done right, this thing could become almost too big,” said Seegers. He said the Tour de Marco, as well as encouraging local people to get out and exercise in the fresh air, would showcase Marco Island, bring business, and raise money for the YMCA.
Coming between the Taste of Marco and the Seafood Festival, before the weather gets too hot, Sunday, April 22 seemed like the best bet, the committee decided, although it was suggested a check be made with Debbie McCabe, who knows everything about when events on the island are happening.
Not only is the island busy with events during the season, so are the conference rooms at City Hall. The bike committee was asked more than once when their meeting would be done, so the next meeting could take place, and the chairs were still warm when the bikers departed and the Hideaway Beach taxing district meeting got underway. In addition to the Tour de Marco, the committee heard from city project engineer Jim Miller with updates on long range projects, including the Safe Routes to School initiative. Committee member Phil Kostelnik briefly mentioned his address to the City Council, requesting more regulations and enforcement for bicycle safety, and Goodland resident John Busch made a plea for a bike path to be extended to Goodland, even though it is outside the city limits of the City of Marco Island.
Bike path work is in the city budget through 2017, but with time short, and the conference room spoken for, the committee did not get into budgeting, the Farmers’ Market, or issues with Key Marco. The group’s next meeting is scheduled for Feb. 10.