The HUGE Reef Project has begun! Surely you have all read about the kick-off event and the project, but many of you did not know that attending these initial events were Florida Representative Kathleen Passidomo, Nancy (everybody loves) Richie, Marco Island City Council Vice Chairman Bob Brown, City Council Chairman Larry Sacher, City Manager Roger Hernstadt, Bernadette (need I say more than Bernadette?), many members of the Marco Island Chamber of Commerce, and of course, yours truly.
Have you been watching the huge piles of construction material that comes and goes every day of the week since they started this massive Reef Project? As fast as they load up the barge (which weighs so much loaded it touches the bottom sand and the barge must wait until the tide comes in to lift it high enough to move forward with the help of the patiently waiting tug) and get under power, they motor to the Reef, unload their cargo and come back.
Meanwhile, the load on land is already beginning to pile up again. This mighty team working on the Reef Project has been stocking up construction debris on identified staging areas for two years, so there is plenty to unload — 500 tons of it to be exact. I drive by the area at the north end of the bridge to Marco every day to watch the activity. Even at night when I’m coming home from Marco, I see the men working and the lights on in the tug and on the barge. As was said recently, once built, it will be the largest artificial reef in the Western Hemisphere.
* The Greater Marco Family YMCA held their Annual Dinner Dance on Thursday, Jan. 15, at Hideaway Beach, and before the night was finished, they had raised an additional $209,000, toward their goal of $1.45 million to build a much needed YMCA Youth Development Building. The money raised was to support a community match fund. They only need another $200,000 to complete this project. John and Allyson Richards seemed to inspire others to give freely as they shouted $25,000, and then AGAIN said $25,000 (total $50,000) — on top of their original donation, which was not announced at the dinner.
So many people offered what they could, and then many offered a second time to help this terrific youth program. Even George Abounader donated, and then his wife, Y Executive Director Cindy Love, said I cannot let him outdo me, and she also donated. Other staff members also donated. The room was filled with love for the children and people who showed it! Corporate sponsors were Condee Cooling & Electric, the Law Firm of Roetzel & Andress and Quality Systems Engineering.
* Hooray! In previous columns I’ve mentioned that a new shopping center will be built on the northeast corner of 951/U.S. 41, behind the Circle K, where trees are now located. Steinmart has pulled its building permit. Kite Realty hopes to begin building that shopping center at the end of March, and we’d love to see them do it!
* Please mark your calendars. My Town Hall Gathering will be held Wednesday, Feb. 18 at 5:30 PM at the Marco Island Historical Society’s Rose Hall Auditorium. At that time, county staff will give citizens an update on the construction of US 41 E and 951/Collier Blvd. They have been doing an excellent job of keeping the traffic moving while keeping this massive construction project on track.
Also, we’ll be hearing from the county Parks and Recreation Department with the latest updates on South Beach and Tigertail Beach, the Goodland Boat Park and the 951 Boat Launch. Additionally, they will fill you in on their work with the Marco Coast Guard Auxiliary project. The county museum staff will bring you up to date on their work with the Marco Historical Society Museum.
* Surely you’ve noticed the construction taking place at the Eagle Creek Shopping Center along US 41 E, in front of The Fresh Market. Yup, that facility will be a Panera Bread, and people have said they’ll be thrilled to see it come.