Council members, staff and residents took a moment of silence at the outset of Monday evening's Marco Island City Council meeting to pay their respects for the family of councilman Joe Batte and his wife, Anne, at the loss of their daughter in-law in a tragic motor vehicle accident last week in New Jersey.

Laura Batte was married to Joe and Anne's son, Steven, and was the mother of two boys, Steven Joseph and Michael Angelo Batte.

Services were held on Monday in Florham Park, N.J.

Alleyway parking

For months now council members have heard from one specific business owner on Collier Boulevard about parking issues behind his business that abuts the alleyway that runs from Amazon Court to Saturn Court. Joe Oliverio of Joey's Pizza and Doreen's Cup of Joe has wanted to see the city establish a special municipal taxing district for all the commercial businesses that abut that alleyway to provide for improvements for additional parking.

On numerous occasions he's voiced his view that the majority of owners like himself were willing to sign on to a plan to make this happen. On Monday evening a number of those owners came forward to proclaim their displeasure with that idea.

Marvin Drummond, an owner of a beauty solon on that stretch of Collier Boulevard disputed those claims.

"It's come to our attention that a special tax district is being proposed. We don't want to be taxed to solve a problem that one owner has. Joey's Pizza took up his parking lot with additional seating and wants all of us to pay to solve that problem, this isn't right," said Drummond.

"Most of us oppose this; we'd like to have you take a tally of those of us that abut that alley," said Drummond. "We have agreements within our plaza for adequate parking when you follow the codes."

"If he wants to expand his business he should look for another location with adequate parking," continued Drummond.

Chris Roach of 229 N. Collier Boulevard, who owns four units at that address, objects to a taxing district being established.

"We affectionately refer to this alley as Joey's Alley, because he has taken over it for parking for this business," said Roche. He has too much density and too much use with inadequate parking. You'll be creating a parking lot for Joey that we pay for."

Roche did find fault with the fact that the city has not maintained the alleyway for many years, until now.

"It's a public right of way," said Roche.

A number of other owners sat in the audience, agreeing with the speakers, but chose not to rise but to support those who did speak.

Rental ordinance

Walter Marcoux of 174 Flamingo Circle rose in support of the rental ordinance.

"My home is surrounded by rental properties. One person owns 5 homes on my street that are rentals. I am not here to ask for more regulations for condos, they have their own boards and can deal with problems as they arise, however, I am here to support stronger regulations for homeowners who rent," said Marcoux.

"I've tried asking nicely for people to please quiet down, but I can't even use the language here in front of you. My wife and I do not have a great quality of life and I hope you'll stay the course on this ordinance," said Marcoux.

Smokehouse Bridge update

Public Works Director Tim Pinter was again on the hot seat about the progress of bridge construction. He did report that the pilings had been put in place this week and they were looking ahead to the dismantling of the old structure.

Larry Honig questioned why the bridge completion date had again slipped from Oct. 3 to Oct. 27.

"This is disconcerting," said Honig.

"Why has it slipped another three weeks," asked Honig, to which Pinter had no response.

Councilman Bob Brown also commented he was concerned weather will certainly be a factor.

"They've given us no reason to believe them when they give a date," said Brown.

Councilman Victor Rios followed on with a question about a communication received over the weekend by the city about vibration issues. That communication came from The Esplanade 1 Condo Association.

Rios quizzed Pinter as to the issue and was advised that according to DOT standards the acceptable limit on vibration from such an activity is 0.5 per second. The vibration monitoring devices on the job showed the maximum level obtained during the process was 0.004 per second, less than 1 percent of the acceptable level.

"There is no issue regarding vibrations," said Pinter.

Rios went on to inquire about the process for predrilling for the pilings.

"Did we predrill like we did on the other side," inquired Rios.

"Yes we did," answered Pinter.

Rios would then debate the necessity of whether the contractor had predrilled to the same depth as the south side pilings, to which Pinter simply replied it wasn't necessary.

City Manager Roger Hernstadt did respond that the complaint from The Esplanade was received the day after the event, but that the city had initiated its review over the weekend. This assured several councilmen that city officials weren't delaying the response to their complaint.

Pinter did assure all that the city would respond to the communication from The Esplanade Building 1 group as soon as he has all the data before him.

Swallow Avenue

At its last meeting, council moved to withdraw approval of the contract with Quality Enterprises for a stormater project on Swallow Avenue later this summer. This was in direct reaction to the council's comfort level with Quality's performance on the Smokehouse Bridge work.

Quality had objected to the retraction of the award and requested council reconsider, due to the fact that the work did have a time schedule associated with it because of a grant from the South Florida Water Management District worth $120,000 to the city that helps to fund this project.

In the end, council voted to move forward with Quality, rather than lose the grant money and be involved in a protracted lawsuit.

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