Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Looking Back at 2017

Photos by Steve Stefanides

Photos by Steve Stefanides

For Marco Island, 2017 will remain a year with a mixed bag of accomplishments and settling into the role of governing while dealing with a number of perplexing issues. COPCN Debate

The debate over how to proceed on the issue of an application for a COPCN (Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity) regarding the establishment of a city run Emergency Medical Transport Service has dragged on over the last year. The new council was presented with the consultant’s report on December 5, 2016, but it was essentially shelved until recently when council finally moved at a special called meeting on December 12, 2017 to present the application to the county for their review.



That application was one portion of a three-pronged approach agreed to in June of this year. The second portion of that strategy was the city’s request for a second fulltime ambulance to be placed in service on the island, rather than the second seasonal one which is here from December to May each year. That request was rejected by county staff earlier this summer.

The third segment of the city’s strategy laid with tasking the city’s Tallahassee lobbyist with the responsibility to help shepherd a “Local Bill,” with the assistance of the local legislative delegation, to circumvent normal procedures and bypass the need for county approval on the application to the State of Florida. Part of the agreement with the legislative delegation is that the city will hold a referendum on the subject in August 2018. Manager Resigns

The resignation of the former manager came about after an extended debate as how to “evaluate” his performance during the January 23, 2017 meeting.

At the first meeting in February the City Attorney read aloud the City Manager’s resignation effective July 7th. Council instead would choose to accept his resignation effective immediately and a protracted severance discussion would ensue.

The contract which the manager was working under was highly criticized by both then Chairman Larry Honig and Vice Chairman Jared Grifoni. That document was one negotiated with then City Attorney Burt Saunders, who now serves as a Collier County Commissioner. Veterans Community Park

The issues concerning the possible building of a small hotel on property near the Veterans Community Park became an election issue in 2016. The new council would deal with issues concerning density transfer and essentially eliminate that provision in the Land Development Code, if their initial actions are not modified when it comes back before council. They would also move to permanently change the zoning to Park Land for the area which encompasses Veterans Community Park, an oversight by past actions from when the land was purchased. City Manager Search

The arduous search for a new CEO for the city took almost 10 months to complete and two separate searches for the professional who will now lead the 227 fulltime and part time employees providing services to residents and visitors alike.

An initial attempt to hire a replacement for the former city manager failed and resulted in a heated exchange with the consultant hired. After a cool-down period and apologies, a secondary search proceeded which resulted in the hiring of Dr. Lee Niblock of Gainesville, Florida. Niblock had recently served as the Alachua County Manager before leaving that employment. Goodland Road

At a joint meeting in May of 2017 the long debated issue of Goodland Road was finally put to rest when council met with the Board of Collier County Commissioners to discuss the matter once again.

The county in 2002 changed the Road Impact Fee Program and as part of that, deeded the responsibility for maintenance of Route 92 and 92A (Goodland Road) over to Marco Island for the annual payment of one million dollars for maintenance on both 92 and 92A, in addition to all other city roadways. This contract would be for the span of 15 years.

The constant flooding of the 92A roadway to Goodland had always been the source of a contentious debate between citizens of Goodland, the county and the city.

The county had held back two million dollars in road impact fees that were owed Marco Island until the city agreed to make the necessary adjustments to the roadway. The city, through its attorney opined that “maintenance” was not re-engineering of the roadway and the city could not afford such. The City Attorney at the time was Burt Saunders who is now a Collier County Commissioner.

At the meeting in May of 2017 Council Chairman Honig agreed to withdraw claims for the $2 million dollars owed the city, plus write a check for $1.5 million dollars that the city was holding for collected road impact fees. The county would resume responsibility for Route 92A (Goodland Road). The city finalized those documents in June of this year. AD-HOC Committees Formed

Two Ad-Hoc Committees were formed as the result of the election of November 2016.

A committee to look at possible solutions for parking issues on the island was formed and gave council a preliminary report on their findings. No actions were taken on any cost issues associated with the committee’s recommendations. However council did agree to continue the holiday moratorium on swale parking during that period and extended times which allow residents to park over the sidewalks. Council also extended the committee’s existence and will take under advisement the recommendations of the committee.

In a related action, council recently reduced requirements on parking for the Marco Island Town Center as relates to parking for restaurants. An overall reduction of restrictions may be coming for other complexes.

The other committee is the Water Sewer Options Advisory Committee. This was formed to look at possible ways to lessen the impact on ratepayers for city water and sewer. They have looked at a number of options, such as privatization, sale of the utility, sale of assets, alternate sources of water and other means to reduce impact on ratepayers. No substantial recommendations have been acted upon by council. Planning Board

The Planning Board continues to wrestle with the updating of the Land Development Code and issues relating to development itself. Lot coverage, in addition to setback requirements, definition of terms and other items that deal with the mechanics of how the island is developed are front and center on their agenda.

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