Saturday, November 27, 2021

Coastal Comments



Donna Fiala

Just in time, the Goodland Fire Protection services, handled by the Marco Island Fire and Rescue Team, was rescued, thanks to a visit to my office by City Manager Roger Hernstadt and Counsel chairman Larry Sacher, and also Mike Barbush and Barry Gwinn who phoned from Goodland to alert me to a topic coming up for a vote by the County Commission shortly. We were able to rescue that service and keep Goodland fire protection where it belongs: with the Marco Island Fire Department. Team work at its finest!

*Have you ever heard of a WaWa? When I first heard that name I thought it was a dog or a baby asking for water………but instead it is the name of a huge convenience store and gasoline station, and it is coming to our area soon. They are working out the details now to be located directly across U.S. 41 E from Outback Steak House. Every time I mention that name to an audience, they shout out with admiration! This one I’ve gotta see!

*Do you enjoy Theater? On Marco Island we have many companies who perform Plays right here on the Island, and they all seem wonderful. A girlfriend, Marisa Cleveland and I, just saw Arsenic & Old Lace, performed by the Island Theater Company and presented at the Rose History Auditorium at the Marco Museum. It’s the first time I’ve seen this group perform, and it was nothing but impressive! The audience laughed and enjoyed every minute of the play. The actors enjoyed acting as much as we enjoyed watching them! And who was right there involved every step of the way? Pat Berry………the lady who loves the theater and does everything she can to promote this art to all who love to be entertained. It was so good seeing her again! Not one person left the auditorium before closing……….that’s how well it was performed. The stage crew did a fine job of creating the atmosphere. It is amazing what people can do with a little imagination and a great team!

*There are two transportation issues of great importance to two communities, but neither one of them can be solved by the City or the County. The first is a noise wall at Reflection Lakes! As the State FDOT is widening U.S. 41 E beyond 951, the road becomes a 6 lane highway. The folks living in Reflection Lakes have petitioned for a noise wall before the end of construction, but FDOT says they did a study 6 years ago, and their study said noise wouldn’t be a problem. I’m sorry, but I beg to differ! Sadly, nothing the County can do or say will change their minds. The County has asked the State to meet with these people, and to their credit, FDOT came out to meet with them, but their presentation and reply is “No Wall”. We all wondered how a noise study from 6 years ago could reflect what is happening now! Six years ago we were in the Great Recession; traffic was much slower because people had moved away or there were no jobs for people to drive to, or tourism was down because people could not afford to travel. Now – six years later, with a new shopping center about to be built close by, and a new development being built behind Reflection Lakes, the State says “No Wall” – if you want it, YOU build it. I love to rush in and rescue a situation, but alas, I cannot tell the State what to do. All of a sudden we all just felt helpless! It’s like an ant telling a gorilla not to step on it! It’s so disheartening. The same is true with a needed traffic light in front of the “Horses” at Lely Resort. Many accidents have taken place as people try to turn left out of The Resort, even one death, so we implored the State to allow a traffic light to be installed, but their studies show a traffic light is not warranted. I asked privately “if we could pay for it would they allow it”? The answer was – No. The FDOT gave them an option, but no light. So there you have another case of complete helplessness. It seemed no matter how prepared the county or the residents were, the answer was NO LIGHT. I think next year we (the county and the residents) should get together and ask for another warrant study, but this time we’ll be prepared for a different outcome. I’ve been thinking of ways we can change our approach and I have some ideas I will share with the Lely Resort folks.

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