MARCO ISLAND — After more than six months, “red shirt” representatives from Olde Marco won’t sit at City Council meetings and speak their minds during public comment.
On Monday, Marco Island City Councilors approved Collier Boulevard street lamps for the Olde Marco District and promised to remove the industrial type lighting so offensive to people in the area. The motion passed by a vote of 6-0. Councilor Joe Batte was not present at the meeting.
The lighting project was halted after outcries from residents claiming tall, highway style lights were not representative of Olde Marco’s character. City councilors directed the Beautification Advisory Committee to develop a plan for island-wide lighting. At its last meeting, the committee told City Manager Jim Riviere that the Collier Boulevard lights should be used on city arterial ways including Bald Eagle Drive.
Earlier, city staff discovered 62 Collier Boulevard streetlights in storage. Those will be used on Bald Eagle Drive in Olde Marco. Labor for removal of industrial lights and replacement with the shorter marine-style lampposts will cost $800 per fixture or $55,800 for the project. The city will receive a credit of $10,000 from the installer for the earlier unfinished project.
Olde Marco’s two most outspoken representatives, Bernadette Powers and Mary Ann Maniace, thanked council and the beautification committee for finally seeing it their way. Council agreed to remove the unwanted poles and replace them as quickly as possible. The industrial lights will be repurposed by the city, said Tim Pinter, public works director.
Marco Island City Council moved through the rest of its agenda seemingly as one mind. All issues passed on 6-0 votes or unanimous consensus throughout the session.
Council voted to declare an emergency in the Hideaway Beach District. Critical erosion of its beach is destroying wildlife habitat, endangering mangroves and threatening the foundations of two high-rise condominiums. Pinter presented slides of the damage. The emergency decree will accelerate the process of permitting needed to add sand and erosion control structures to the beach.
Council heard testimony on a variance for a seawall around its North Water Treatment Plant at 807 East Elkcam Circle. The change would allow the seawall to be built 4.5 feet higher than allowed, raising it from 5.5 to 10 feet.
The wall is designed to be 1,157 feet long. The variance city council passed will allow the height increase for the full length of the wall when built. In the near future, the city will replace only a portion of the wall using $466,000 allocated for the project’s first phase.
Council moved to award the contract for phase I of the Safe Routes to School project to Marquee Development for $293,769. Widened and contiguous sidewalks will be placed around the perimeter of Tommie Barfield Elementary and Marco Island Charter schools.
The project will receive an FDOT grant for $227,840, leaving the city’s costs at $65,929.
Marquee Development was the contractor that installed the South Collier Boulevard shared-use sidewalks.
Councilors agreed by consensus to remove the first hearing of a new flood ordinance from the agenda. They also forwarded to a later date discussion on a public-private partnership (P3) operating the city’s utilities. Council instructed staff to complete research on similar P3s and determine cost savings for the city. Councilors plan to attend a public-private utilities workshop on July 17.
A 2-year performance evaluation gave City Manager Riviere top marks. On Monday, councilors offered an overview of earlier private discussions with the city manager on his job performance.
Councilor Frank Recker gave the city manager an A, saying he reserved an A-plus for God. Councilor Bill Trotter praised Riviere for good budget controls, reorganization of departments for efficiency, and learning to be a public official after private sector experience. Trotter asked for more accountability and timeliness in council communication and materials for discussion.
Council Chairman Larry Magel thanked the manager for controlling costs resulting in a $1.75 million surplus, keeping all city departments under budget for the past 18 months with one exception, and reducing staff from 211 to its current 207.
Councilor Chuck Kiester lightheartedly chided Riviere for the choice of “on-hold” phone music used by the city. Councilors Jerry Gibson and Wayne Waldack offered no comments.