Divide and conquer: Parking solutions committee tackles the island's issues bit-by-bit
Marco Island’s Ad Hoc Parking Solutions Committee hosted its second meeting Wednesday. The City Council formed the committee in March to address one of the island’s more pressing issues: a serious lack of parking.
The committee consists of five members: Jason Bailey, Robert Cholka, Joseph Oliverio, Amadeo Petricca and Maria Schilke. Pattie Ziesig is a designated alternate member.
The council selected the committee members based on their knowledge, expertise and involvement of and with the island’s various industries, such as business, tourism and hospitality:
- Bailey has a background in construction and has been an informal advisor to the Planning Board during its Land Development Code update.
- Cholka – who was unanimously elected chair of the committee – owns Marco Fitness Club and is the church council chair at Wesley United Methodist Church.
- Petricca is a former city councilor who placed an emphasis on solving the island’s parking problems during his 2016 re-election campaign.
- Oliverio – who was unanimously elected vice-chair of the committee – owns Joey’s Pizza and Doreen’s Cup of Joe, and has been extensively involved with the island’s parking issues as president of the Marco Island Restaurant Association.
- Schilke worked for Deltona Corporation and later founded Marco Island Rental Properties, Inc.
During the committee’s first meeting earlier this month, councilor Charlette Roman – who pitched the idea of the committee to council – told the members that they are charged with the task of developing a comprehensive parking plan covering the next three to five years, and the plan is to be presented in a multi-phased approach to facilitate budgeting for improvement.
She also noted that not all proposed solutions will be budgetary – some will require no-cost as well as low-cost solutions – and recommended organizing work plans into districts.
The committee took her advice and assigned each member a zone for evaluation and identification of uses (i.e. business, residential, etc.) and specific problems; the members shared their findings Wednesday.
Petricca is in charge of Zone 1, which covers the northernmost part of the island. He noted that the area's problems seem to stem from the restaurants and their lack of sufficient parking for patrons and employees. He suggested looking into paving the swales.
"I'd rather not fill in the swales at all," said Tim Pinter, director of public works and the committee's city staff liaison. He noted that a better solution might be to simply allow parking in the swales without altering them.
Zone 2 – which is Cholka's assignment and includes The Esplanade, Veterans Community Park and Island Plaza – has a wide-range of problems, some of which might be alleviated by creating additional parking along Herb Savage Way, Cholka said.
Bailey noted similar problems in Zone 3, but said the area offers few opportunities to create alley parking; however, there are some buildings in the zone, such as offices and churches, that are only used during certain daytime hours, so he said the city should ask the businesses to consider leasing their lots to one another.
Zone 4, Oliverio's assignment, is comprised primarily of residential properties for which the parking is "self-sufficient," he said, but there are eight "highly successful businesses" within a block of each other on Dunford Way, and that's where the problem lies.
"Every available spot in that area needs to be amplified," because the businesses generate so much traffic, he said.
He also said it should be noted that everything the committee does is for the good of the island's annual residents.
"When we create this infrastructure, we're creating it for the residents," Oliverio said. "They're the ones who are here year-round ... and suffering from the lack of parking."
In Zone 5 – which is Schilke's assignment and includes Marco Walk, the Marriott and the Hilton – beach parking is the main issue.
"People park in front of my house and walk to the beach," she said, "and that's not fair."
The committee members mulled over the idea of creating some sort of beach shuttle system to alleviate the problem. The committee members also agreed to review Zone 1 in depth during its next meeting, which is 3 p.m. June 14 in the council's chambers, 51 Bald Eagle Drive.