By Wade Keller
Speaking to the Marco Island council last Monday (June 16) was somewhat goofy.
After being on Marco Island almost 20 years I’ve had interesting hobbies from “acting” at Marco Players, Toastmasters, Rotary, Friends of Library on to promoting two clubs, CHESS and Points…CounterPoints.
In addition on work side have published personal memoirs along with wife Sue. We’ve done about 40 books. Of those here are a few who lived on Marco at some point:
“Tell Me a Story, Grandpa” by Bill Rose, “An Ordinary Man in Extraordinary Times” by Tom Owens, “In the Shadow of Satan” and “The Colors of Life” by Janusz Subczynski, “If It Is To Be, It Is Up To Me” by Marlin Reishus, “Life’s Voyage” by Maury Atkin, “An American Story” by Stan Gober, “At the Helm” by Ed Storie, “The Making of a Surgeon” by Norm Thomson, “Plums in Heaven” by Grace Cordell, “Hard Knocks and Straight Talk” by Bill Howey, “Show Me the Money” and “Show Me the Trade” by Ron Groenke, “From Refugee to OBE” by Charles Strasser, “A Matter of Trust” by Glen Johnson, “I Did It My Way” by Frank Harris and “Windows of Opportunity” by Jim Derderian.
So this week, a new adventure, I attended the council and saw I could speak for four minutes. OK. I had gotten stirred up about the Marriott expansion. [Note the Marco Eagle Guest Commentary “In Memory of Mike and JW” on May 30.] Surely there was no real issue about the Marriott, in my opinion, and the council pretty much agreed, after hours of babbling, with a vote of 6 – 1. But…it did leave a bad taste in my mouth. We really were seriously out of the loop.
So, in the cool of morn settled in the lanai, punching on my iPad, nodding along with pet lizard, here’s what the Marco council should really do.
Let’s focus on the real big problem – Why waste all the good space straight up above buildings, especially right on the beach?
I’m not sure about the details that popped up with the Marriott. It seems the Marriott wanted a height of 125 feet for a new tower, while “rules” restricted to 100 feet (even though many condos much higher). I think there was some compromise. Whatever. While I was grumbling at the council during my four minutes I’m pretty sure I used the term “piddling”. What the heck is this about having a maximum height right on the beach, nothing in front but gulf water? Piddling, I say, just piddling.
As sipping the morning cup of black coffee, no cream or sugar, a particular history event came to mind.
Back in the 1800s after the War Between the States, there was much competition between New York City and Chicago. Both were vibrant, itching to grow. Much speculation about which would be top primary city of the USA as moving on into the 1900s. Obviously NYC is the Big Apple but it could well have been the Windy City. And it’s all because of those pesky rules and regulations.
You see, in Chicago and NYC there were tall buildings going up, some as high as ten stories. In 1892 the Chicago councilors decided they had an important issue concerning the new skyscrapers. Councilor opinions were needed. They pursed their lips, frowned their foreheads, and proclaimed,
“Thou Shalt Not Build Higher Than 300 Feet.”
And hence Chicago was out of the loop as entrepreneurs (the early Don Trumps) thumbed their noses, boarded the trains for Penn Central Station, the heart of New York.
Somehow in Manhattan the councilors had the libertarian theme of, “Mind you own business and get busy. And, oh yes, the sky is the limit.” Later on in the 1920s Chicago councilors saw the wicked mistakes and loosened up.
But the impact is still very clear. In tourist mode which are you most likely to visit? Sue and I take our grandkids to Times Square, Broadway, UN, all over Central Park, walk down the Hudson through the Bowery, play chess in Washington Park, walk the Brooklyn Bridge, so much more, exciting memories!
But back to Marco Island, let me speak to the councilors from our quiet lanai in the early morning.
You gentlemen, you seven duly elected, need not be piddling. You have the authority to pass this reasonable, sensible, paramount Rule:
“Thou Shalt Build as High as You Please on the Beach of Marco Island.”
Wade Keller is assisted by wife Sue as they are busy ghostwriting, editing, publishing new personal memoirs. Trips out of town involve chess tournaments and brand new grandkids. They can be reached at 239-389-2525, [email protected].