The opening of Marco Island on January 31, 1965 was a momentous occasion for the Mackle Family. Their vision for the island was extremely ambitious and would be the biggest of their lives, requiring an enormous amount of planning to overcome all of the challenges that would face the family.
Now, almost five and a half decades later, another generation is looking forward to planning for the future of that same island and the tasks that lay before them may be as large for them, as it was for the Mackle Brothers. The island is no longer a mosquito infested swamp and the cumbersome application process for dredging canals and creating building lots is a distant memory.
The gorgeous four-mile-long white sand beach still is here and is a major allure for visitors and residents alike. Modern transportation has connected the wonderful paradise that the Mackles saw when they first arrived. That in itself has provided the leaders of today with an entirely new set of challenges, if the paradise known today as Marco Island is to be maintained for future generations.
Marco Island city staff, residents and elected officials have embarked upon the important task of creating a strategic plan for the island moving forward. It is a large endeavor, but an important one, if the island is to maintain its charm and quality of life for its present inhabitants and those over the next twenty years.
On last Wednesday evening they were introduced to Lyle Sumek of Lyle Sumek Associates by the Interim City Manager David Harden. He is the man who will lead them through the process of creating that plan over the next year. Sumek was introduced to a group of 70 residents on the campus of the Marco Island Historical Society. Each councilor chose 10 residents to serve as part of a sounding board of sorts for this first meeting with the consultant.
They were asked a series of questions in an exercise which was meant to collect their views on what they feel are the important challenges that lay ahead of the island and today’s residents. Those ranged from how effective they saw the present-day governing body, how to enhance the livability of the island, the best way for government to communicate with them and how they perceived the island looking in 15 years.
It was an interactive exercise which required participation between those in attendance. Sumek explained it was a time for the councilors in attendance to listen, rather than talk.
In the end, each participant wrote a message to the council and its chair on a 3×5 card. All of the input received will be categorized and presented at other workshops.
The process will continue throughout the remainder of the year, as the city strives to reach a consensus of how the community today envisions Marco Island over the next ten to twenty years, and how that vision is best accomplished.