Keeping Marco Island beautiful and insuring we have great curb appeal, especially down our major roadways, is an important priority for the city staff and its contractors. Collier Boulevard is one of those major arteries on the island and it provides visitors with their first impression of our island.
As such, the city’s contractor and staff members meet on a regular basis to review the conditions and discuss improvements that can be made within their scope of work to be done. Affordable Landscaping and Design holds that contract for this work.
Part of their contract with the city lies in the maintenance of Collier Boulevard (with the exception of a short section which is maintained by the J.W. Marriott in front of their complex on South Collier Boulevard). Affordable Landscaping maintains the other areas along Collier Boulevard.
Collier Boulevard contains over 164 street or swale storm water drains. These drains help to control the run-off of storm water during rain events. Collier Boulevard was provided with gutters and drains as part of a two-phase project which ran from Rose Court to Winterberry Drive. That was done after considerable debate concerning the removal of the swale system that was originally designed to handle stormwater run-off.
Staff and the city’s contractor have been working on a proactive approach to ensure that grass clippings would not enter the stormwater collection points along the area which was curbed and guttered. Affordable has created a system which will deal with that through the use of an imaginative design, utilizing a containment boom and rubberized flap to ensure that debris does not infiltrate into the gutter collection device. After the area has been appropriately landscaped, it is then vacuumed, and the boom and flap device removed.
Those catch basins seen along Collier Boulevard have been provided with a “catch basin filter” which was designed to catch some of the larger debris that enters those basins, such as bottles, cans, large landscaping materials such as branches, palm fronds and other material. There is no ability today to filter out the oils or other liquid contaminants. The city on a regular basis deploys a large vacuum truck to suck out that debris and dispose of it.
The unfortunate part of this story lies with the fact that there are 1,800 storm drains around the island. Only 164 are getting the special attention given to the area that is maintained by Affordable Landscaping. A short drive off of Collier Boulevard will find storm drains that have not been maintained well by property owners or their landscaping contractors.
There have been some discussions about wanting to regrade swales and raise up inlet boxes to allow water to infiltrate into the ground in a slower fashion. This, some say, will help to naturally filter the contaminates from the water. However, other experts claim that because of the high-water table on Marco, which in some places is three foot or less, this would not be very effective.
Another area of concern lies in the lack of proper enforcement of the codes which do not allow landscape material to be blown into canals, on purpose or by accident, by landscaping contractors
For Collier Boulevard, however, it appears that a collaborative effort and ingenuity of private enterprise with its governmental partners may have solved a longstanding problem.