By Coastal Breeze News Staff
On August 28, 1997, by just 181 votes, Marco Islanders elected to become a city. Seven members were subsequently elected to the City Council, a City Manager and staff were hired, and the huge task of becoming a city was underway. With the invaluable assistance of 75 citizens who volunteered to serve on various start-up committees, the structure of the city took shape.
The new City Council took on everything from architecture to zoning. It was not easy. There were serious problems with the Island’s infrastructure. Bridges and roads needed repair, storm drainage was inadequate, a budget had to be set, and the city’s new charter needed to be streamlined and amended to meet the needs of the community.
By October 1998, responsibilities of the new city were established. Over 100 miles of streets, storm drainage, rights-of-way, 12 bridges, six parks and the recreation program came under city jurisdiction. All community development activities, including planning, building permitting and inspection, zoning ad ministration and code enforcement became city responsibilities.
As a tribute to 15 years of Cityhood, Coastal Breeze News asked members of the Marco Community to offer their thoughts regarding this milestone. A special thanks goes out to all who contributed and a very special thanks to all who continue to offer their time and talents to the City of Marco Island.
There have been ups and downs over the last 15 years, and that is to be expected with the differences in options and philosophies. However, the greatest indicator of the quality of life on this island is the fact that so many visitors to what I call paradise, want to come back and call this their home too!
Steve “Stef” Stefanides
Chairman, Christmas Island Style
On behalf of the 750 associates who work at the Marco Island Marriott Beach Resort & Spa, I would like to congratulate our “City of Marco Island” on it 15th Anniversary of Cityhood. As the General Manager of the Marriott, I have had the opportunity to interact with all facets of our City government and, without hesitation, I can say that our City has come a long way in the past 15 years in providing responsive and effective government services to our businesses and citizens of this island. There are always growing pains endured in the formation and maturing of a Cityhood, and although there have been issues that have generated dissent, I do believe we have been represented by City Council Members and City Department Heads who have demonstrated a genuine care for our island and all of its citizens and businesses who occupy it.
Happy Anniversary Marco Island!
General Manager, Marco Island
Marriott Beach Resort & Spa
What a wonderful city to live and work. In addition to being a fabulous tourist destination, we have a very strong business community dedicated to the success of all businesses.
Since we have become a city we have made major road improvements, beautification of medians, and improved signage all which contributes to the success of island businesses.
Our citizens and businesses are actively involved with social events, cultural activities and fundraising for various charities. We should be proud of the quality of our schools and youth activities that lay the ground work for the future of responsible citizens. Marco Island is a wonderful place to work, live and play.
Marco Island Chamber of Commerce
Marco Our Hometown. What a great country we live in where citizens can vote to create a City as their local form of Government. The citizens 15 years ago created the City of Marco Island in order to have more local control and steer their destiny. As a City we are so young at 15 but the foundation of democracy upon which all cities are created makes the celebration of that occasion important. This is Our Marco Island, our Fire-Rescue, Police Parks and Recreation, Building, Public Works, Utilities, Administration, Elected Officials, but most of all it is Our City and Our Hometown. Happy Anniversary.
Chief Mike Murphy
Marco Island Fire Rescue Department
The Parks and Recreation Department have been busy since the department was created eight years ago. Major renovations to Mackle Park have been provided including creating two new athletic fields with night lighting; modifications to Mackle lake; creation of a new 12-foot pathway along the lake and park perimeter; a new playground; kids spray park; beach volleyball area; new floating dock; picnic shelters and a wonderful dog park.
Park staff continues to create many new programs and special events.Programs such as the Spring Jubilee and October Fest boast 3,000 to 4,000 attendees. Camp Mackle was created in 2010 and over 125 kids participated. The Farmers Market was created three years ago and provides 117 booths for vendors.
Veterans Community Park was improved in the winter of 2008 with 190 parking spaces, the open space was sodded and irrigated, and landscaping was provided by the “Trees R Cool” committee and a grant provided from the State of Florida. The Veterans’ Committee had matched a grant provided from the City and constructed a beautiful Veterans’ Memorial near the waterfront, opening November 11, 2011.
Bryan Milk, City of Marco Island
Director of Community Affairs
I have seen a lot of changes on the island since moving here in 1988 and most of those changes have been great. As a past president of the Chamber of Commerce, I would commend our past and current city officials including city council members for their services to make it a better place for the islanders. We are better off with our city now than 15 years ago with a new bridge, Veterans Park, new Collier Blvd, new museum, improved Mackle Park, variety of new restaurants, businesses in general and more important, a well run Police and Fire Department. Thank you for improving the quality of life for us and the new generations to come. Happy 15th Anniversary.
General Manager, Hilton Marco
Island Beach Resort and Spa
Infrastructure is why I finally voted for incorporation of Marco Island after having cast votes against cityhood in every previous election. Why infrastructure? Because the condition of Marco was looking worse and worse year after year. Frankly, there were enormous amount of island tax dollars being shipped off island to the County and the meager return of those funds back to us made me decide to vote “Yes” in that election.
So, we are now 15 years later, and I am convinced that the decision was the right one. The island looks much different – beautiful well kept medians, a second bridge built because the City Council had the wisdom and kept pressure on the situation to have it designed and ready; a new Collier Blvd with street lighting, curbs and drainage; a large tree planting project that has already made the island more lush; bike paths for safety and recreation; more beach access points; etc. But there is much more than just the tangibles – there are the intangible benefits that I could not have predicted at the time nor forecast: a community park system with programs for our youth; a police department with continuous patrols and programs to keep the island safe; decisions made locally by leaders who live here and heed the advice of their neighbors and friends; environmental efforts for turtles, owls, and eagles; as well as strong community support for charter middle and high schools, and for the construction of our own History Museum.
Marco Island is not only a better community today because of self government, but it has a better sense of identity and purpose. It is looking more and more like the Paradise we often described it as. I, for one, am fortunate to have lived most of my life here.
Craig R. Woodward, Esquire
Woodward, Pires & Lombardo, P.A.