I’m a retired licensed professional civil engineer and a former member of the Marco Waterways Advisory Committee, as well as someone with a keen interest in Marco’s water quality. I support any practical measures which may protect and hopefully improve Marco’s water quality. Accordingly, I took an interest in the stormwater plan within the proposed Park Plan for Veteran’s Park. For the most part, I admire the design of the overall plan and various amenities which include a bandshell, restrooms, parking, pathways and open space, and subject to final FDEP approval, a stormwater treatment system that will meet the State regulations, as is required for any significant development.
But inasmuch as Marco is now dealing with an impaired water status, and although the stormwater plan will satisfy FDEP’s minimum requirements, I believe the City should ensure the Park Plan goes beyond being a least common denominator. It should produce an outcome with which the City and residents can be proud of in other respects. Current planning falls far short from being environmentally conscious. I recall each of our Freshman Councilors campaigned as caring about Marco’s water quality, and trust most of its seasoned members feel the same.
As such, I feel the Park Plan is an excellent opportunity for the City to showcase practical stormwater treatment practices. Residents can actually get to see, appreciate and at some point, incorporate such practices into their own properties for both single-family and condominium living. For example: (I) use pervious paver blocks instead of asphalt paving for new parking, (II) use the same substitution for the new cement concrete walkways, (III) provide Rain Garden planters instead of traditional landscaping beds, (IV) eliminate drainage pipes and drain inlets at the same time, and finally (V) constructing Bio-Filter islands instead of typical tree islands in the parking area like Naples and other communities have been doing.
I also believe that if so directed, the firm designing the Park Plan for the City (i.e. the Marco residents and taxpayers) can easily incorporate environmentally friendly practices like these into its design at minimal, if any additional cost. After spending what I was told was $10 million for the land acquisition cost 15 years ago, the cost of two Master Planning efforts and the current $8.8 million estimate for the proposed plan, I hate to see the City being “Penny Wise and Pound Foolish.” This is an opportunity to promote a “Blue Marco” vibe and to set an example to excite other communities as to what is possible in 2021. It’s an opportunity that should not be missed, for if it is, I see nothing else on the horizon.
Bob Roth, PE