It was a stormy night on June 6. Marco Island was fortunate to dodge a direct hit from Tropical Storm Colin, but encountered a different kind of storm at the regular meeting of the city council. Goodland Road was the center of this storm.
The catalyst for this storm was a letter dated May 25 from the Board of Collier County Commissioners (BCCC). In the letter, the BCCC requested a revision to the 13-year-old interlocal agreement between the county and the City of Marco Island. Councilor Ken Honecker indicated that he conducted extensive research and summarized the history of the agreement, citing an original contract between the parties in 1999. At that time, the county agreed to contribute 60% of the road impact fees for city roads and assets (including Goodland Road) that were originally maintained by the county. According to Councilor Honecker, the county rescinded on that agreement and created a new one in which the county agreed to give the city $1,000,000 each year for 15 years for the maintenance of former county roadways and assets now under the city’s jurisdiction. Currently, there is a $2,000,000 balance, of which $500,000 is overdue in that arrangement.
Fast forward to 2016. Areas of Goodland Road experience flooding due to heavy rainstorms or at “king” tides. The City of Marco Island has previously paid $40,000 for an engineering study for a solution, and more recently, for a hydrological study. The requested solution is to elevate the roadway. Councilor Honecker stated that the worst part of the road is the section that is still under the jurisdiction of the county, specifically the section from Angler’s Drive to Stan’s.
Councilor Larry Honig made a motion for City Manager Roger Hernstadt to meet with County Manager Leo Ochs to negotiate a solution. City Attorney Alan Gabriel stated that Marco Island was contractually obligated to “maintain the road, not reconstruct it.” Councilor Joe Batte added, “We have an interlocal agreement that stated maintenance of the road, not building a causeway.” Councilor Larry Sacher added, “We need to solve this issue legislatively. They (the county) made the deal, let’s make them stand by the deal.” Councilor Honig replied, “What is the harm in authorizing our city manager to negotiate with the county manager?” The councilors in opposition to Honig’s proposal stated that it had nothing to do with a lack of confidence in Hernstadt. They simply did not agree with Honig’s suggested approach. The motion was defeated.
City Attorney Gabriel suggested that the City of Marco Island respond to the letter from the BCCC requesting a payment of the funds that the county contractually owes the City of Marco Island and try to create a path of an amicable solution. In the end, this became a motion that passed 5-2, with Honig and Rios voting in opposition. It was agreed that Attorney Gabriel and City Manager Hernstadt will compose such a letter for Chairman Brown to send to the BCCC. Councilor Honig requested that the councilors individually review the letter before it was transmitted.
In other business, Councilor Honig raised an objection to the fact that the public is unable to comment on information that is “buried in the city manager’s (monthly departmental) staff reports.” Councilor Honecker made a motion, seconded by Councilor Rios to suspend the rules beginning at the present meeting and go forward with allowing public comments on the reports. The motion passed with only Councilor Sacher in opposition. These informational items have been traditionally presented to council as information and subsequently re-submitted for a council vote following public input at the city council meeting immediately following the meeting at which the information staff reports are presented.
As promised at the Marco Island Planning Board meeting, Public Works Director Tim Pinter presented the council with a request for the city to share the expenses of a study to design on-street parking in the Old Marco area. The council passed a motion for this item to be brought back at a future meeting as an advertised resolution, enabling public comment in accordance with past practices.
The first reading of an amendment to the existing ordinance requiring commercial use of grease and oil traps, interceptors and separators was passed unanimously. A resolution was passed to pay cash from the city’s bucket plan for the construction of a new community center at Mackle Park in the amount of $3,115,540. In a related item, a resolution was passed awarding a contract to R.E. Crawford Construction, LLC for the construction of the Mackle Park Center, not to exceed $2,713,405. Council voted to approve a resolution allowing the Family Church of Marco Island to lease a portion of their facility. Resolutions were passed in the interests of the water and sewer department; one awarding a construction contract to Cypress Construction and Coating, Inc. in the amount of $373,094 in a recoating project, and another for $80,000 in the purchase of a tanker trailer, replacing the existing one that is 46 years old.
For more information, and to see the video of this meeting, please visit www.cityofmarcoisland.com.