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There was intense interest in what county planners had to say – and Goodland residents had plenty to say themselves.

Thursday evening, Collier County’s Transportation Engineering Division held the first public information meeting on the upcoming work to alleviate flooding on Goodland Drive, the twisting ribbon of road that is the only road access for the fishing village that sits on Marco Island, but outside the city limits.

Nearly 70 residents and stakeholders came out to hear the plans from the county engineering staff and their consultants, and to offer their own feedback and suggestions.

Goodland has suffered for decades with up to several feet of salt water topping the eight-tenths of a mile stretch of road during storms and particularly high tides, and residents were eager for relief. For years, Goodland Drive was a pawn in city-county disputes, with Collier County paying the City of Marco Island for road maintenance that was notable by its absence.

At Thursday’s meeting inside the Goodland Community Center on Mango Avenue, the county went first. Project manager Daniel Flynn of consultant Grady Minor gave a brief slide presentation, and the total of four outside consultants and seven county staffers laid out the preliminary plans.

Jay Ahmad, director of the Growth Management Division, told the gathering the overall budget for the project was approximately $5 million, with $4.5 million coming from Collier County and the balance from state funds. He cautioned that the work is expected to eliminate “nuisance flooding,” from a higher than normal high tide, but not to keep the road surface above the waters of a major storm or hurricane.

He warned against “scope creep,” the problem of expecting too much from a given project.

“We’re not going to fix the entire drainage issue,” he said. Currently, the work is contemplated to extend from San Marco Rd. to just past Stan’s Idle Hour Restaurant.

The county staffers gave stickers to each resident attending, asking them to place them on a map blowup to indicate where they thought the flooding was the worst. A cluster of yellow dots ended up grouped around Stan’s.

With the road surrounded by and cutting through mangroves, the review process will be extensive. Permits will be required from “South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD), Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP), U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), and we believe the Conservancy of Southwest Florida will be monitoring requirements of the Deltona Agreement,” said Collier County Growth Management Department Community Liaison Connie Deane.

Timing was a big issue. County project manager Andy Miller indicated he hoped to begin physical roadwork “in winter or spring of 2020, best case scenario,” with the work completed in less than a year.

More: Neglected no more: County holding public information meeting on Goodland Drive

“You can’t start tearing up the road in the middle of our season,” said Kelly Kirk of Kirk Fish Co., a Goodland seafood market. “We only have six months to make money.” Miller committed that they would always keep one lane of traffic open, and principal project manager Marlene Messam noted that, “in Florida, we have two seasons – tourist season and rainy season.” Rainfall patterns will have to be considered.

Resident Connie Fullmer expressed the hope the road would retain its winding character. Miller said that not only would that keep the aesthetic quality but deviating from the current footprint would require extensive mangrove destruction.

Interestingly, the county called the project “Goodland Drive Rehabilitation,” as though the road is going into a 12-step program – but maybe that fits the “drinking village with a fishing problem.”

All in all, this project seems to be one of the too rare instances when “we’re from the government, and we’re here to help you” really seems to fit the bill. The residents even gave the staffers a round of applause before the meeting wrapped up.

Another meeting, not yet scheduled, will be held when design plans are further along, said Miller.

 

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