Beach shuttle, off-site parking and Tigertail Beach top list of Marco Island's 'no swale parking' solutions

During a break in public discussion, Marco Island Planning Board member Bob Brown, standing, talks to restaurant owners Friday about the problems of swale parking on W. Elkcam Circle near the Esplanade and in Old Marco on Bald Eagle Drive.

During a break in public discussion, Marco Island Planning Board member Bob Brown, standing, talks to restaurant owners Friday about the problems of swale parking on W. Elkcam Circle near the Esplanade and in Old Marco on Bald Eagle Drive.

Marco Island Zoning Administrator Joe Irvin, left, with paralegal Daphne Ricobene and city attorney Burt Saunders listen Friday to discussion during a Planning Board workshop on solving Marco Island's parking problems.

Marco Island Zoning Administrator Joe Irvin, left, with paralegal Daphne Ricobene and city attorney Burt Saunders listen Friday to discussion during a Planning Board workshop on solving Marco Island's parking problems.

Cheryl Ferrara/Eagle Correspondent (3)
These cars on Seagrape Drive are parked legally on Saturday, but the city hopes to ban parking in swales and unimproved parking areas close to the south beach entrance.

Cheryl Ferrara/Eagle Correspondent (3) These cars on Seagrape Drive are parked legally on Saturday, but the city hopes to ban parking in swales and unimproved parking areas close to the south beach entrance.

— Daphne Ricobene, paralegal for the city attorney's staff, zeroed in on the Hamptons Friday to kick off a presentation for resolving island parking issues. The parallels, she said, made the comparison a viable model for Marco Island's woes.

Early on, East Hampton realized it relied on tourism for business, Ricobene said. The city also recognized that it could offer only a finite number of parking spaces. Its message to beachgoers: If all parking spots are full; move on to the next beach. After that, the welcome mat is rolled up and parking fines make the point.

East Hampton offers free parking permits to residents. All non-residents buy permits from the town for $25 a day or $325 per year. Violators are towed and receive a mandatory $150 fine. Unlike Marco Island, East Hampton is the sole beneficiary of its parking levies.

Of beach parking spots available on Marco Island, 359 are owned by Collier County: 287 at Tigertail Beach and 72 at South Marco Beach. An additional 422 are owned by the Marco Island Civic Association. The city controls no beach parking facilities.

Joe Irvin, city zoning administrator, presented a possible solution. Ban swale parking near the south beach entrance and utilize an island shuttle from the 190 parking spaces at Veterans' Community Park and 60 spaces in Mackle Park. The shuttle would take anyone wishing to use the beach to public beach entrances.

Like East Hampton, parking would be first-come, first served. An important piece of the plan, Irvin said, was increased parking enforcement. He also asked the Planning Board to consider enhanced signage, particularly to Tigertail Beach.

As a potential second step, Irvin asked the board to consider a plan to purchase two C-3 zoned properties, one on S. Collier Blvd. and one on Winterberry Drive near the soon-to-be-constructed miniature golf course. The two lots could potentially add 135 parking spaces owned by the city and close to beach entrances.

Board members questioned the business viability of a privately owned shuttle that might be profitable fewer than four months a year. Board member Irvin Povlow said the shuttle could be modeled on the success of the Key West Express, a water shuttle from Marco Island to Key West. It comes to the island during profitable months, and then moves on, he said, suggesting the beach shuttle service could do the same.

Irvin proposed the shuttle also could be used to move people throughout the island and help resolve evening swale parking issues at the Esplanade and in Olde Marco.

Olde Marco restaurant owners Peter Marek, Sr. and Susan Ackerson said parking in their district could be solved with additional on-street spaces. Marek described the parking area he created in front of his restaurant as a tasteful alternative. Marek and Ackerson agreed that Olde Marco's swale parking problems were contentious for as little as two or three months a year and only a few days a week.

Peter Marek, Jr., joined the conversation agreeing the shuttle was a good idea for beaches and for Old Marco.

Curt Coon, owner of CJ's on the Bay, acknowledged overflow parking problems on the swales of East Elkcam Circle, but said it was a walking problem more than a parking problem. He offered to discuss with the Esplanade's new owners parking alternatives and possibly more valet services. Planning Board Chairman Dick Shanahan suggested Irvin be part of the discussion.

Members of the public asked how the city would address restroom facilities, trash pickup and other services if a shuttle were used to take people to beach areas where accommodations were not available.

The board will continue to craft a comprehensive citywide parking plan at 9 a.m. on Friday, June 15, in the Community Room, 51 Bald Eagle Drive. Parking also will be discussed at a joint Marco Island City Council and Planning Board meeting on July 16.

The regularly scheduled Planning Board meeting on June 1 has been canceled.

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Comments » 10

Mayor_McCheese writes:

Put a floating walkway across Tigertail Lagoon and most off islanders who go to South Beach would go to Tigertail because with easy access to the Gulf, it is a much better beach with great facilities and plenty of parking.

happyhorowitz34145 writes:

Great idea using shuttles from designated parking areas to the beach access areas all along Collier Blvd.
The question of parking and shuttles for the Old Marco area is a different issue.
The question that should be asked is, how does the City allow a restaraunt like Old Marco Pub expand to 130 seats when the entire building has inadequate parking to begin with?
How does the City allow all the restaraunts at 599 S. Collier (Davinci's @ 300 seats, Capt. Briens @ 150 seats, Nacho Mama's @ 150 seats, Konrads @ 150 seats,and the Movie Theater, and all the outdoor seating for the restaraunts)wth known inadequate parking?

MrBreeze writes:

Lets start a shuttle service that will go broke and then turn to the city for taxpayer dollars.

Why must we continue to make this such a big deal. Just ticket and tow the cars. Ever been to Miami and park in the wrong place?

captnjimbo writes:

Are the beach goers going to pay a fare for the shuttle or does that come out of the parking fee?? That's the only way I would do it. Who says we need to provide accomodations for day trippers. The Hamptons solution is the smartest and the best...no illegal parking and when our spots are filled move to another beach.

The tigertail bridge accomodation would be good for every one and the bridge cost could be coverered by an increase in the parking fee. As it is there are on most days some empty places in the lots because swales are free. There may be a lot of solutions to the parking problem but one thing is for sure...the undiciplined swale parking has got to stop.

As far as the restaurant parking goes, the accomodation has a direct impact on these local businesses but I have found that if there is no parking many times there are no tables either...we just move along. Part of a business location issue is the number of seats and the number of parking places. Where does it say the city must provide them? Same with the beach.

smythe89 writes:

I pay $10 to park and $5 to get on the beach in NJ. Marco beach is worth at least that much!!

WizeOlMarco writes:

East of Judge Jolly Bridge need to put up an electronic information sign that informs the day trippers when parking is full, like exists for parking at airports/train stations...before Isle of Capri Road so they have a place to turn around. Too much information??

Pursuit writes:

in response to WizeOlMarco:

East of Judge Jolly Bridge need to put up an electronic information sign that informs the day trippers when parking is full, like exists for parking at airports/train stations...before Isle of Capri Road so they have a place to turn around. Too much information??

Wizeolmarco
Excellent idea Sign could post parking at tigertail only when south beach is full Also! More signage need's to be in place to direct people to Tigertale from collier Swale parking must be addressed it is killing real estate in the sensitive area's Maple & Flamingo as well as South beach area Shuttle is not a solution but an added expensive nuisance as south beach and maple ave entrance have no facilities to handle crowd's Marco is too small to handle much more density More attraction's will ruin it's residential character

Throat_Yogurt writes:

A floating walk way will surely cause lawsuits due to the elderly attempting to cross and "slip & fall).

Shuttles will never happen.

Build a 3 story parking garage at the present South Beach parking area. Charge the hell out of the tourists. And I can park for free with my MICA card :)

bnbnewman#259333 writes:

Does anyone believe that a family of 4-6 or a group of young people lugging food, coolers, umbrellas,fish gear,toys,and all kinds of paraphernalia is going to get on and off a bus four times a day.I do not!
Parallel parking is the simplest and economic solution to solve the saftey problem on Swallow Ave.
Marco Bob

captnjimbo writes:

Yes...burden those home owners and condo dwellers with free parking for daytrippers. Sorry, not the answer. That is a residential area and should not become commercialized like that. I noticed over Easter the parking lot at Stilts along with beach access was around 10.00. Obviously thier owners aren't organized like a normal condo.

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