State OKs $1.3 million for 3 Marco projects

Steve Stefanides

Gov. Rick Scott has completed his review of the recently passed $82.3 billion state budget and three projects totaling $1.3 million for Marco Island have been approved and will not meet the governor’s veto pen.

The Marco Island City Council had directed the city’s lobbyist, Ron Book, to pursue the three projects.

“We should be thankful for the proactive approach taken by our city manager and the great work done by Mr. Book to return these monies to the city taxpayers for these much-needed projects,” said council chairman Bob Brown. “We also should be thankful to our legislative delegation for their work in helping to obtain these monies.”

The three projects include:

• $750,000 for the Marco Shores alternative water solution.

• $299,140 for Marco Island storm water master drainage improvements;

• $250,000 for renovations to the fire-rescue headquarters.

City Manager Roger Hernstadt had initially recommended Book for the job in 2015. He was successful in obtaining $400,000 for a potable water project and another $100,000 for a storm drainage projects on Tahiti, Bayport and Bald Eagle Drive during his first year of lobbying for the city.

In addition, he also helped obtain another $1.1 million for beach renourishment for Collier County that Gary McAlpin, the county’s coastal zone manager, confirmed to the city council at a February meeting after an inquiry by the city manager.

Book was successful in obtaining $2.5 million from the legislature for a multiuse building for Veterans’ Community Park last year, but the governor vetoed it during his budget review.

Council chose not to pursue those state funds again during the recent legislative session and instead substituted the three projects.