MARCO ISLAND — In a meeting of the minds, Marco Island City Manager Jim Riviere joined the Beautification Advisory Committee Monday to offer understanding and a little guidance.
He gave the nod for the group to develop a budget. He fell short of suggesting the city would add a line item to its budget for committee projects.
Riviere warned the group not to venture beyond its core responsibilities as an advisory committee. The best he could do, he said, was make them participants in the budget process. He outlined how committee members should present their case to City Council.
He cautioned them not to venture out of their role as advisors to council by straying into administration of city work.
Earlier in the meeting, the committee discussed an email from Tim Pinter, city public works director. He responded to a list of committee concerns he received via email from Nancy Richie, city liaison to the group. Richie wrote it for the committee after discussions on March 25.
Most issues addressed maintenance and upkeep of Calusa Park, city medians and right-of-way trees.
“The BAC’s general consensus was that the current landscape is not being maintained to the standard it should be,” Richie wrote in the email.
Pinter responded his department was doing the best it could and had addressed the committee’s concerns when possible. Committee members were not satisfied with the response and discussed sending another correspondence.
“It’s not nitpicking,” said Susan LaGrotta, chairwoman of the committee. “You don’t build something and then not take care of it.”
The city manager was asked to comment but declined, saying he would cover the subject in general later in the meeting.
The committee acknowledged that the city was in a transition from high maintenance, high water-use plants to Florida friendly selections. It would take time, members said, to replace older plants and trees with drought resistant ones.
They pointed to the success of the Florida friendly demonstration area outside Marco Island’s Police Station. After being established, the site received no additional water other than from natural sources. The plantings remained lush and green with little maintenance, the committee noted.
Bob Kennedy, committee member, said he recently designed the landscape for two smaller medians on Collier Boulevard between Barfield Drive and Rose Court. The designs, using only Florida friendly plants, were given to the city manager.
The committee asked Kennedy if he would develop Florida friendly landscapes for the remaining four larger medians between the two roads.
In other business, the committee discussed a whitefly workshop being sponsored by the city at 2 p.m., Wednesday, April 10, in the Community Room, 51 Bald Eagle Drive. Committee members hoped educating the public would help reduce the hard-to-control infestation of the island.
Presentations will be made by Dr. Doug Caldwell, etymologist with the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. A treatment company representative will be on hand to discuss inoculation methods and chemicals that are effective on whiteflies.