Marco Island to reopen beach access Thursday; Caxambas boat ramp to reopen this weekend

Marco Island City Council voted unanimously to reopen city-owned pedestrian beach access effective Thursday.

The beach access points by Marriott's Crystal Shores hotel and the Madeira condominium will open from sunrise to sundown.

"Marco Island is ready to open up," City Councilor Victor Rios said during a special-called council meeting Wednesday.

People in parks and beaches are required to maintain social distancing and avoid congregating in groups, following guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, according to a city news release sent Wednesday.

Police officers "will continue to monitor the Governor’s orders and educate the public accordingly," wrote Chief Tracy L. Frazzano

The vote comes after Collier County announced it would open beach access and parking lots on the same day, including South Beach and Tigertail Beach in Marco Island.

City Council voted April 6 to reopen beach access. Following the vote, people flooded the city with hundreds of calls and emails demanding they remain closed.

Less than 48 hours later, City Manager Mike McNees announced Marco Island would not be opening its beach access.

The city originally closed it March 19 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

City Council voted unanimously Wednesday to allow city employees to come back to work if they feel safe to do so but City Hall will continue to be closed to the public.

Council also passed a motion allowing the city to open outdoor hard surface areas such as basketball and bocce courts on Friday.

The Mackle Park building will remain closed as well as the park's playground, spray park and restrooms, according to the news release. The Racquet Center building will remain closed too.

Vice-chair Jared Grifoni requested McNees to evaluate the possibility of reopening playgrounds and the water park "however we can do that safely." This will be discussed during the next council meeting.

Answering a question from councilor Charlette Roman, McNees said the Caxambas Park boat ramp is scheduled to reopen Friday.

"I spoke with the county manager who reminded me that the county's order to close that boat ramp [...] expires on May 1," McNees said.

City Council passed a motion March 31 requesting the county to close the ramp.

The beach and fishing areas at the base of the Jolley Bridge will open Thursday, according to the news release.

As for private businesses in Marco Island, they will open and operate as authorized by the state of Florida, according to Alan Gabriel, city attorney.

"If I were king of Marco Island, which I'm obviously not, I would open businesses yesterday," Chairperson Erik Brechnitz said.

Dianna Dohm, executive director of Marco Island Area Chamber of Commerce, said local business owners want to work.

"Our island businesses are ready to get back to work [...] but lets be safe about it," she said. 

In case you missed it:Marco Islanders’ reaction to beach access opening led to decision to keep it closed

And:MICA to open Residents’ Beach and Sarazen Park on Thursday

Omar Rodríguez Ortiz is a community reporter for Naples Daily News and Marco Eagle. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram as @Omar_fromPR, and on Facebook. Support his work by subscribing to Naples Daily News.