City Council finds agreement in series of unanimous votes

Lance Shearer
Columnist
Bob Roth, from left, Mick Moriarty and Erin Mia Milchman present a layout for handicapped accessibility beach matting to City Council. The council met on May 17.

The City Council meeting on Monday was something of a love fest, with every vote taken by the councilors coming in at 7-0 in approval of whatever the motion was.

That included not only the discussion of rental properties and noise, the only agenda item that sparked any heat or conflicting viewpoints, but a raft of other business that the council dealt with. Along with a pro forma approval of a proclamation declaring the week of May 22-28 National Safe Boating Week, clearly timed for when on the water activity up north is getting underway, as opposed to Florida where it has been in full swing all winter.

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Councilors agreed, unanimously in every case: to declare as surplus property four pieces of property, send a letter to Congressman Byron Donalds regarding the Corps of Engineers, approve a conceptual plan for improvements to city governmental facilities around city hall, move forward with a plan for matting on the beach to enhance accessibility, and commit to spending up to $65,0000 in city funds for Fourth of July fireworks. 

The assistant to the city manager, Casey Lucius, presents surplus properties to be sold off. City Council met May 17.

They also approved, in addition to the minutes of the previous council meeting on May 3 and the comprehensive plan workshop on April 29, a consent agenda of noncontroversial business. This included purchase of a sewer cleaning vacuum truck for $448,000, $67,000 worth of water and sewer testing, purchase of SM Hical pebble QL lime from the Mississippi LIme Co., and approval of a site development plan amendment for the Publix at South Barfield Drive. Initially, the consent agenda also included the expenditure on fireworks, but that was pulled for separate discussion later during the meeting. 

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The four surplus pieces of property are all vacant off-island parcels of real estate, owned by the city for the use of its water and sewer operations. Casey Lucius, assistant to the city manager, made a brief presentation showing pictures to the councilors. She described the lots as the “rapid infiltration basin property,” the “Tahiti lot,” and two properties on Mainsail Drive in the Marco Shores area. While in aggregate the properties are said to be worth almost $3 million, Lucius said that the city will get an updated appraisal and sell the parcels with public notice to the highest bidder, “at or above the appraised value.”

The letter to Donalds, following on the heels of a letter from Collier County Commissioner Penny Taylor, references Marco Island’s specific concerns with how the island is dealt with in the U.S. Corps of Engineers Collier County Coastal Storm Risk Management Feasibility Study. 

A proposed renovation of the first floor of Marco’s city hall, including at upper right the vault from its previous life as a bank building.

“One major concern is that Marco Island is excluded from the beach and dune nourishment recommendations in the study. Marco Island appears to be completely eliminated from the coastal defense strategy being proposed by the ACOE.” said the Council’s letter. “Our need for coastal protection is great and we cannot afford to be passed over for possible Federal funding. However, it is just as important that our City Council and our residents have a voice in this multi-billion-dollar plan that can greatly impact the City of Marco Island. We want to be clear that the CSRM has not been approved or endorsed by either the City Council or the taxpayers of Marco Island.” 

The letter notes that a letter from City Manager Mike McNees to the Corps last September has never received a reply, and asks Donalds “as our Federal Representative,” to meet with the ACOE, get them to respond to the issues raised, and return to the island to “hear from our residents in a public forum.” The council letter also referenced Critical Wildlife Areas within the city. 

Council looked at plans for renovations to the city government “campus” on the corner of Bald Eagle and San Marco Road, focusing on the city hall annex, acquired at a cost of $2,235,000, and City Hall itself. Costs for the annex are estimated at $719,130, with another $316,800 budgeted for City Hall itself. The council chambers/police station building was deemed to be suitable as is, and the adjacent fire station, intended to be demolished and rebuilt with costs in the $11 million range, will be considered separately. 

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After presentation on handicapped accessibility beach matting from Bob Roth, MIck Moriarty, and Erin Mia Milchman of the Marco Patriots, the council voted to support the concept and work with the county to install the mats. Like all the other votes that evening, it was 7-0.