City’s waterways committee seeks to refocus

Steve Stefanides

The Marco Island City Council held a wide-ranging discussion with Waterways Advisory Committee Chairman Jim Timmerman when he came to update council members on that committee’s work and look for some guidance on future initiatives.

Timmerman found a receptive ear with many of the council members as he detailed a number of issues on which he and the committee would like to move forward. Those include looking at how to address the issue of lionfish, which are beginning to migrate north and present a threat to the native fish population.

Several other items such as evaluating the present codes dealing with placement of new docks next to existing docks also came up. Plus, they discussed the use of available money for the implementation of a test on Marco to evaluate the impact of technology developed by the Ocean Restoration Initiative to restore water clarity and the return of a more vibrant fish population.

Councilman Joe Batte supported Timmerman’s presentation, but went a step further when he commented that, “you don’t need our permission, as an advisory committee we welcome your input and work.” This has run somewhat contrary to what the committee had been told by their staff liaison (Public Works Director Tim Pinter) as he has advised the committee that they must first receive permission and direction by council.

Councilman Ken Honecker commented that it was his opinion that the committee had been somewhat “bogged down” on issues such as seawalls.

“Our navigation markers are in need of attention and the safety of our citizens is more important to me,” said Honecker. “When I rented a boat in Punta Gorda they even had some of their secondary markers lighted by solar-powered red and green fixtures, something we should be looking into.”

Former Coastal Advisory Committee member and now councilman Victor Rios said the project on markers could be very expensive.

“We should be going to the CAC as they have funded similar projects in Naples, said Rios. “The project relating to lionfish may be larger than you imagine and could consume all your time.”

Council also spoke of the need to identify canals by the placement of street signs at their entrances and looking at ways to have homeowners exhibit their street addresses on their docks or outside their lanais in an effort to aid public-safety personnel.

The Waterways Advisory Committee meets the third Thursday of each month at 9 a.m. at city council chambers. Those meetings are open to the public.