Thursday, August 6, 2020

BEACH ACCESS CLOSURE REVERSED


********* UPDATE APRIL 8, 2020 – CLICK HERE *********


The April 6 meeting of the Marco Island City Council began as a focused and upbeat meeting, with Councilor Honig leading a discussion relative to the positive nature regarding council’s refinancing of $60 million dollars in debt for the Marco Island Utility.

The drastic reduction in rates surrounding the volatile financial markets the last several weeks would result in the ability of the city to take advantage of those fluctuations, subsequently resulting in a savings to Marco Island Utility customers of about $6 million. 

Councilor Honig would go on to praise the work done by Chair Erik Brechnitz and City Finance Director Gill Polanco for their ability to move quickly to acquire the windfall for Marco citizens during the turbulent marketplace conditions.  “In 2013 we refinanced these same bonds when we said rates cannot get any lower let’s refinance these now,” said Honig. “Well, they did and they brought it in at below 2%. It came in at 1.87%, a heck of a lot lower,” said an ecstatic Honig.



BEACH ACCESS

The issue which brought the most discussion during the meeting centered around access to the beach.  Only a few days after Governor DeSantis signed an executive order which would require residents of the state to limit their travel to all, but essential movement council would debate and eventually by a slim margin vote to reopen two public access points.

 The city would vote to close those two access points under their control two weeks ago, after the City of Naples and Collier County closed those beaches.  The county would also close the South Beach Access point in addition to their Swallow Avenue parking area. MICA would join with the county and city in closing their parking facilities at Sarazen Park on Swallow Avenue also.

All of these actions were taken after beaches in Miami/Dade County and Broward County were overrun with Spring Break vacationers and social distancing ignored.  Government leaders in Collier County, Naples and Marco Island feared an influx of beach enthusiasts relocating to this side of the state and possibly increasing the spread of the COVID-19 in our area.

Some on Marco Island would complain the only access to the beach was now being allowed through the hotels and condominiums.  Councilman Victor Rios would complain that we had created two classes of citizens, one with access and one without. Others would praise the action as an effort to help reduce unnecessary travel and social interaction which could cause a spread of the deadly virus.

At the start of their discussions regarding the beach and the COViD-19 challenges, Stephanie Vick of the Florida Department of Health would give an overview of where Collier County stood in the battle against the COVID-19 Virus.  She reported that Collier County had 249 cases of the virus, 44 of those were non-residents from outside Collier. They expect the peak in Florida to be around the first week of May. There are presently five confirmed cases on Marco at this time.

Ms. Vick would report there are presently 50 patients in Intensive Care Units (ICU) throughout the county with another 21 ICU beds available, but she would also report the numbers of admissions is rising as each day passes.

In the status report given by Chief Frazzano the numbers continue to show a reduction in traffic coming across the bridge to the island.  She would also report that hotel occupancy levels are staying about the same. Individuals on the beach vary some between 150 to 500 people at the maximum level.  

Frazzano would also comment that misinformation which continues to show up in social media posts are very disheartening and complicates their jobs.  She would stress that if resident see something that they reach out to the P.D. to report that information or question what is being said though outside sources.



The majority of email comments being read at the meeting were from beachfront condominium owners who feared loss of access to the beach area.

There were three options which council would review regarding beach access.  

  • Option 1    No Changes to present status.
  • Option 2    No access to anyone, including beachfront units.
  • Option 3    Change formula to allow more access.

At least two motions failed before Councilman Reed suggested the following after considerable discussion.

  • That the two controlled public access points belonging to the city be reopened.  (One is by the Hilton Hotel and the other by the Madeira Condominiums. They’re approximately half mile apart.)
  • The re-opening would happen the Monday after Easter. (April 13)
  • That one be for ingress and one for egress / no two-way traffic.
  • The access points would be open from dawn to dusk.

The motion to approve the plan was 4-3 in favor with Councilors Grifoni, Brechnitz, Rios and Reed in favor of the motion. Councilors Roman, Young and Honig opposed to the plan. 

Some that have heard of the plans question several aspects of the proposal.   

  • Lack of public parking and the impact on neighborhoods near those access points.
  • The lack of public sanitary facilities and restrooms.
  • How will trash be handled both on the beach and at the entry and exit points.
  • The requirement to walk a half mile to the exit when once on the beach and another half mile back to where the vehicle is parked.
  • Who will be responsible for enforcement of the details of the plan.  

The council will meet again on April 20 at 5:30pm in Council Chambers at the City Hall Campus.

 

  

21 responses to “BEACH ACCESS CLOSURE REVERSED”

  1. Bob Brown says:

    All people that would like to enjoy Marco Island’s Beaches should just park at Marco Walk. Empty lot and no one will ticket you. Ingress or egress is right there at the corner. Bring your friends from Miami and Ft Lauderdale!

    Our City Council is out of control along with the City Manager and Police Chief.

  2. Mary Ann says:

    It is disheartening to read that during this time of uncertainty that condo beach front owners would be so irresponsible to the community of Marco Island. We all need to do our part no matter how hard it is. We possibly have a low percentage of cases on Marco because of our due diligence in closing off certain high risks areas, such as the beaches. Please reconsider your decision on opening the beaches before our number of cases become alarming. The uncomfortable question is “did we do enough??”

  3. Frederick Riese says:

    The better option is to close the beach completely. (And I own a beach front condo.) This is best for the entire community of Marco Island. The COVID-19 virus is a problem that we all have to face together as a community. Temporary inconveniences will save lives. That’s where our focus as a community needs to be.

  4. Larry Porter says:

    I really don’t think you really thought this through very well but get ready for the flood of people by land and boats. Marco is the talk now and the place to go to because ever thing is closed in Naples. We have a lot of people that are here from the north who desire the beach and now you will provide it for them at what cost.We protect the turtles and birds more then are own people because of money and what you call season. I have lived here for 39 years and are season is becoming year round .

  5. Joe says:

    It is ridiculous to close
    beaches and tennis courts
    “NO Groups allowed”
    social distance
    They should modify
    the tennis and beach
    limit to (2) two adult
    on tennis courts per court
    Social distance
    and
    (2) adults on the beach
    social distance
    Citizens should not
    be deprived of fresh
    air sunshine and open
    court exercise

    • john g. says:

      Sounds simple – if you dont want your tennis partner to infect you – stay home. You have that choice… but restricting others that want to play – and can stay a tennis court distance apart (and play with two sets of tennis balls),,, shouldn’t be restricted.

      Same w/ the beach – naples beaches can be wide open this time of year – why can’t i sit and read the paper in my 100′ plus zone… if your nervous about catching cv19… stay home, but restricting everyone isn’t fair.

      Why dont we shut down tobacco companies, they kill lots more people every year… oh wait, they have more lawyers in washington…they wont be deemed hazardous at all….

  6. Fred Kolb says:

    Once again I am truly stunned by the terrible decision making of Marco Island City Government.

  7. Roberta says:

    As a resident of Marco Island, I am completely against the re-opening of our beaches. I received 4 calls today from friends living as far as Fort Myers asking about the reopening of our beaches. This will just increase the influx of people in our Island thus leaving us residents at higher risk for contamination.

  8. Cheryl Barbour says:

    I am loosing so much revenue by not allowing my renters to rent our condo. I still have to pay HOA and Taxes without having the income. What and who should I address this issue to?

  9. Marge Weis says:

    You watch the number who have the virus plus how many die due to opening beaches in Marco is going to be your fault who voted for this….. All these college kids will come & spread the virus to use older people that could not even walk that far spread it in grocery stores & in the air plus they won’t stay far apart..You really care about us Marco people who have been here 40 yrs. or more🙃🙃🙃

  10. Tony Costantino says:

    The decision to reopen the Marco Island beaches is ill advised at this time. The two obscure access points will only serve to confuse and aggravate the already stressed out residential population.

    The plan again creates two classes of resident. Residents who are in walking distance of the access points benefit while residents who need to drive to an access point will be effectively excluded. To further complicate the situation the two access points are one half mile apart. Access and egress require a one mile walk. Except for the athletically inclined this is not an ideal situation.

    Some have suggested that this limited beach reopening was initiated to protect beach access for beachfront condo residents and hotel guests. We can only hope this is not the case.

    The council should either follow State guidelines or enact a plan that benefits all island residents not a select few.

  11. Karen Harvey says:

    The beaches should remain closed
    Especially in this peek period.
    This is a decision that council may regret

  12. Dale Anzalone says:

    Save the people leave the beaches closed till further notice

  13. g. kent says:

    The Government has warned us that the next 2 weeks would be critical in this covid19 catastrophe.
    What do they do? Reopen the beaches…someone needs to be fired for their lack of judgement.

  14. Horst says:

    Lots of public parking for people now that everything is closed along Winterberry and Collier. Get ready for plenty of off island people on and off that 1/2 mile stretch.

  15. Judith Russo says:

    Now is not the time. The next 2 weeks are critical. This would be a foolish mistake. People still would CV ome from all over. Let’s keep our cases down not look to have more by bad decisions.

  16. Adel D. says:

    By now the entire country knows that Marco Island’s beaches are open for business on Monday. Mr. Brechnitz and his cohorts have recklessly lit a beacon over Marco’s beaches, while most others stay closed or are only now closing. This will undoubtedly draw outsiders — limited parking, and deadly pandemic, be damned. Brechnitz claims Marco Island has the resources to control the behaviors of increased beachgoers, or shut the beach again at any time. Either way, those answering his invitation will have already frequented the island’s groceries and pharmacies, and likely interacted with it’s law enforcement, first responders and healthcare workers, who are asked to face enough risks daily. The whole of Marco Island’s residents don’t deserve this ignorant decision to expose them to these risks just to accommodate the inconvenience of a few. For the sake of those that I love, I pray that action will be taken to reverse this decision while there is still time.

  17. Pat finn says:

    As the president of a condo association near one of the access points I fear that the amount of people that will be looking to trespass on our property looking to park could adversely affect what we have strived so hard to do ie keep possibly infected people off the property and keep our residence safe. This will definitely affect the neighborhood around the access points.
    I myself would love to be back on the beach but am willing to hold off till it is safer for all

  18. M. Quick says:

    I miss walking the beach every day and would love to continue before I go back up north in a few weeks, but for the sake of everybody’s health, leave the beaches closed till the pandemic is over.

  19. Diane Souza says:

    Diane

    I hope that the council is taking into consideration the fact that in about ten days the schools in most of the New England states will be having their spring vacation. Many responsible parents and families have already canceled their vacations elsewhere or their plans to come to Marco as a result of Covid-19, I know that mine have. What about families who have not canceled or those who have waited to see what will happen. Schools have been closed and parents are besides themselves because the children are bored and parents are responsible 24/7. “Whoa wait a minute kids I found the best place, MARCO ISLAND, the beaches are open and there are lots of activities for you. and the airlines are running special rates that are the lowest in years. That’s where we’ll go. Get packed kids, we all need a break.”ywb11
    Ask some of the more than 10,000 grieving families if they think it’s prudent to reopen the beaches!

  20. Kent Kadel says:

    When Naples and Fort Myers close their beaches Marco Island
    should close theirs in coordination for safety’s sake.

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