Monday, October 18, 2021

Upgrades for Parking May Be Coming to Old Marco

Photos by Steve Stefanides

Around the nation, many feel that the government tends to move at a “snails-pace” when it comes to commonsense solutions to problems. One of those issues that might fall into that category lies in parking here on Marco Island. 

For the last decade, a considerable amount of discussion and debate has been held on parking issues on and around the island. An Ad-Hoc Parking Solutions Committee in the last year provided the City Council with a list of prioritized concerns regarding some of the areas they would like to see addressed. 

It appears the city may be inching forward to addressing an area that was listed at the top of their priorities. Last week, a pre-bid meeting for contractors was held that would address parking on Bald Eagle Drive. The segment which would be addressed begins at the Pier 81 Condominiums and proceed northerly to Palm Avenue. 

Back in 2016, Public Works Director appeared before the Planning Board to advise them that an engineering study was being proposed to the businesses in that area for a “costsharing plan.”  

Pinter advised those businesses that he would be going before the City Council to present a package that would have the board consider sharing costs with the businesses in the area for the final engineering expenses 

The Snook Inn, Old Marco Pub, Marek’s and the Old Marco Square had submitted checks for half of the $28,000 cost of the project. It is unclear at this writing whether or not that study was ever completed.  

It is estimated that the scope of work being proposed in 2020 will require the removal of trees which were planted on the west side of the street in that area and have them replanted elsewhere around the island. This would allow both sides of the street to have the swales reconfigured, improvements to drainage, updating of the water lines in that area, the installation of new 5-foot sidewalks, re-setting of the lighting fixtures and the installation of pervious pavers to allow for parking and appropriate run-off of stormwater. The existing pavement would also undergo a milling process and that material will be re-laid to provide a new surface to the roadway. 

This would require North Collier Utilities to make the necessary improvements to their sanitary sewer lines in the area. North Collier Utilities is the private sewer provider for that area of the island and is administered by Craig Woodward. 

The issue of parking in that specific area has become a bone of contention since the city changed the rules governing parking for restaurants. Prior to the 2010 change to the city ordinances by the Planning Board and City Council, a restaurant owner was required to have one parking space per every four (4) seats. With the change came the new calculation which only required one (1) parking space per every 200 sq. ft. of space.  

There is a different formula for those restaurants existing in a plaza that shares space with other retail/office entities.  

Condominiums which are located on the opposite side of the roadway from those restaurants complained bitterly regarding the damage being done on their swale areas. Those areas are the responsibility of those residential condominiums to maintain, even though they don’t own that area. 

Those that live in that area have consistently voiced their concerns regarding the safety factor that presents itself during high season. The parking of cars which extend into the roadway and the opening of doors into that roadway also presents a concern in this poorly lit roadway area.  

Bids are due into the city by mid-March for evaluation and recommendation to the city council. 

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