Monday, December 6, 2021

Major Issues Move Forward

Marco’s application for a COPCN moves forward. Photo by Steve “Stef” Stefanides

Marco’s application for a COPCN moves forward. Photo by Steve “Stef” Stefanides

Islanders saw progress made on two important issues that will have a major impact on residents in 2018; the issues concerning navigability in the waterway at the mouth of Collier Creek and the ongoing dispute between the City of Marco Island and Collier County over emergency medical services and transport of patients. Both issues had some movement in past weeks. Emergency Dredging in Collier Creek

Director of Coastal Zone Management for Collier County, Gary McAlpin went before the Board of County Commissioners to explain the challenges boaters have faced following Hurricane Irma. The hurricane impacted the vital waterway connecting approximately one third of the island to the Marco River and the Gulf of Mexico.

McAlpin requested that the issue be declared an emergency, and that an expedited dredging project be fast tracked to remove debris within the mouth of the channel, in order to insure safe passage for the boating community.

Shifting sands along the shores of Hideaway Beach have also been an issue impacting the area, and one that McAlpin’s department had been addressing. The after-effects of Hurricane Irma increased those challenges.

The commissioners supported the $1.3 million project as requested by McAlpin, and permit applications are being made to the State of Florida and the Army Corps of Engineers. The monies for that project will come from the Tourist Development Council (TDC) and the tourist tax, which is used for beach re-nourishment. COPCN Application to Move Forward

The application for a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity (COPCN) will finally be sent along to Collier County officials, as the City of Marco Island continues its quest to operate its own EMS system with transport capability.

Early this year, a consultant had issued a report to council with preliminary data and information which would have allowed the council to move forward. Efforts to negotiate for a second fulltime emergency transport unit for the island have continued to be unsuccessful.

Collier County places a second transport unit on Marco Island from December to May, 9 AM to 9 PM, to deal with increased demands for services, but local officials have been seeking its presence on a permanent basis.

Marco Island City Council has also gone to the local state legislative delegation to have them sponsor a bill in the upcoming legislative session to circumvent the normal procedure, which would require the city to first obtain the approval of Collier County prior to being licensed by the State of Florida.

Although moving the application forward to the county received a unanimous vote from city council members, several members were cautious to note that they were still seeking more definitive data and information as to the potential financial impact to taxpayers and operational details.

The special called meeting of council was required in order to meet the time sensitive nature of the filing of legislative bills being proposed by the local delegation in Tallahassee.

City council will next meet at 5:30 PM on January 8, for the first meeting of 2018, in Council Chambers at 51 Bald Eagle Drive, Marco Island.

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