The war of the “courts” once again erupted at the November 4 Marco Island City Council Meeting. The “courts” being referred to had nothing to do with legal halls of justice, but instead dealt with pickleball and tennis.
The room was packed with pickleball enthusiasts, who brought forth their grievance that the plans for expansion to nine courts, which had been spoken about since May 2018, had been unceremoniously shelved by staff without any consultation with their group.
Dawn Kuhn, who is a member of the City’s Racquet Center and an avid pickleball player, walked the council through the year and a half of discussions and plans, which would have expanded the available pickleball courts to nine. She would also speak to the cooperative nature of those discussions during that time period. When they were advised that the additional courts would not be provided and that bids would be let to only resurface the existing Court # 1 as it is presently designed, the group brought their concerns to the Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee, of which Kuhn is an active member.
The committee sided with their group and wanted to see the costs involved. Two bids had been received, one for $7,500 and one for $5,000. The city had a history with the lower bidder for past work done by their firms. The pickleball group had raised the necessary monies in eight days to cover the costs of the resurfacing. A tennis court overlay would have been included as part of the stripping, but staff was moving forward in the other directions.
Ms. Kuhn asked council to consider their desires, with the knowledge that no costs would be incurred by the city for the planned resurfacing that they believed had been in the plan over the last 18 months.
When Chairman Erik Brechnitz asked City Manager Michael McNees about his knowledge of the issue, McNees responded with good natured humor. “If you lumped the anti and pro marijuana people together, you couldn’t hold a candle to the energy of these pickleball players,” which elicited a positive response from the audience.
In the end, City Manager McNees assured council he believed they would be able to work out the issue to everyone’s satisfaction.
American Legion Updates Council on Vietnam Wall
The newly designed and enlarged replica Vietnam Memorial Wall which travels the nation each year will once again be making a stop, the only stop in the State of Florida on February 20-23. This will be the first stop in its 2020 tour according to Lee Rubenstein who is the Commander of the local American Legion Post.
The Post has been busy, raising the approximate $25,000 budget for bringing the Wall to Marco Island, and has made their goal to cover the costs required by the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund and the necessary costs to support its stay while it is here.
This will be the third time that the Wall has visited the island, but the first for this enlarged replica.
Swale Parking and Common Sense
Longtime resident Ray Seward came forward to question the process and protocols that are employed regarding swale parking. He had recently displayed his antique car at the Knights of Columbus Car Show over the weekend.
Unfortunately for Seward his vehicle wasn’t able to be started at the end of the show, which facilitated the necessity to leave his truck in the swale overnight. The truck had been left in the swale prior to leaving for the charity show.
Seward would question why he couldn’t have been issued a “warning,” rather than a ticket. The ticket was written just prior to 4 AM on November 3. “I’ve been driving 57 years without a violation and getting this ticket really upsets me,” said Seward.
Police Chief Tracy Frazzano responded that they don’t have “warning tickets,” and at the time the violation was discovered during routine patrol, the officer could not speak to anyone and the vehicle was in violation of the restriction between 2 AM and 6 AM.
“All I hoped for was a little common sense being applied here,” said Seward after the meeting.
Council Votes to Retain Brechnitz
Those who anticipated a debate over who would fill the chairmanship of the Marco Island City Council for the next year would be disappointed.
Erik Brechnitz won the coveted role for the second year in a row when he received a 7-0 vote of confidence from his fellow councilors. Councilor Charlette Roman would turn down the nomination of her name which was made by Howard Reed and Reed himself would decline the same offer due to personal conflicts.
When it came to the position of Vice Chair, councilors chose between Councilor Reed and Jared Grifoni, with Grifoni gathering a 5-2 majority, with Roman and Reed dissenting.
Victor Rios, who had served as Vice Chair during the last year, was not nominated for either position.