Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Council Has Busy Week

Marco Island’s new City Manager, Dr. Lee Niblock Photo by Steve Stefanides

Marco Island’s new City Manager, Dr. Lee Niblock Photo by Steve Stefanides

Marco Island City Council has been meeting non-stop since November 1st, when they hosted a meet and greet for the city manager candidates at council chambers. They would again spend all day on November 2nd interviewing the four finalists for the top job within city government.

Council reconvened November 2nd and moved forward to choose a new city manager for the community. The finalists were Daniel Alfonso current City Manager for the City of Miami; David Fraser, former City Manager for Boulder City, Nevada; William Malinen former City Manager from Branson, Missouri; and Lee Niblock, former Alachua County Manager.

The proclamation is read to recognize local volunteers who helped during and after Hurricane Irma. Photo by Steve Stefanides

The proclamation is read to recognize local volunteers who helped during and after Hurricane Irma. Photo by Steve Stefanides

Council chose Niblock on the first ballot, as he received a super-majority of five votes for the position. Niblock holds a B.S. in Geography/Resource Planning from the University of Wisconsin, a Masters of Arts Degree from the University of Iowa and a Doctorate in Public Administration from Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale.

The City Attorney and Vice Chairman Jared Grifoni were tasked to work through the contract details and report back to the council for their final approval. November 6th Meeting

One of the first orders of business was to make the selection of a new Chair and Vice Chair for the next year. There would prove to be no surprises in that selection as Vice Chairman Grifoni was elevated to the role as Chairman and Councilor Charlette Roman was selected as Vice Chairman.

After some juggling of chairs and miscellaneous items, council moved to rearrange the evening’s agenda and reschedule presentations from the Planning Board Chairman and the Chair of the Ad Hoc Parking Solutions Committee to the next meeting, due to the lengthy nature of the evening’s agenda. This caused some angst with Councilman Honig, who later in the meeting admonished his fellow councilors for that move after the change had been made. Hurricane Volunteers Thanked

Council read a proclamation commending the countless hours of volunteer efforts by many organization, businesses and individuals in response to Hurricane Irma. Some of those were in attendance and were given a standing ovation by those present in the audience. Manager Contract Approved

Council moved forward to approve a contract with the new city manager, even though the terms and details of the contract had only been made available just prior to the meeting. Niblock will be receiving a total package worth $255,840.23 a year. That would not include $6,000 in relocation expenses and another $3,000 temporary living expenses. Council Business

The long debated Conditional Use Permit for the construction of a seawall cut and Nautical Garage at 1208 Orange Court was also approved.

A longer discussion regarding the approval of a Site Improvement Plan for the building of a boat repair facility at Walker’s Marina was also approved, but not before owner/operator Jimmy Walker walked council through what he described as a travesty of a process and suggested changes be made. Parking Requirements Once Again Changed

The formula governing requirements for restaurants in shopping centers was eventually reduced when council chose not to consider the Planning Board’s rejection of the changes to the Land Development Code only last Friday.

Robert Mulhere, the planner representing Brixmor Corporation spoke to the unfair nature of the formula used for shopping centers versus freestanding restaurants, along with the fluctuating nature of parking matrixes within shopping centers. He also spoke to the changes and upgrades that are planned for the Town Center Shopping Center owned by his client. Council would vote 7-0 for those changes. Moving Ahead on Veterans Community Park Upgrades

Councilors had a difficult time wrapping their arms around the two tiered nature of both obtaining a suitable vendor to create an updated Master Plan for Veterans Community Park and creating the scope of work for that vendor to utilize as a foundation for the plan.

The choice of Kimley-Horn, selected as the most qualified vendor for the project by staff, was often confused with what the scope of work they would be required to accomplish and the lack of consideration for council’s input for what they had requested in earlier meetings.

Lina Upham, the staff member presenting the item endeavored to explain the bifurcated process of first choosing a vendor based upon qualifications and then moving into a second negotiation with that choice for the work that would be required and establishing a budget for it.

Council would eventually approve staff’s negotiating with Kimley-Horn so the work on the design stage of the Master Plan could proceed. December 4 – Next Meeting

Marco Island City Council’s next meeting will convene on December 4 at 5:30 PM in Council Chambers.

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