What can I say? Last weekend and the holiday should have been one of the best we have out of the 52 weekends we get during the year. Traditionally in the United States, it is held on the second Sunday in May and celebrates motherhood and mother figures. The day was created by a woman named Anna Jarvis, but she lived to regret it, as she felt the meaning was lost on greed and commercialism—seems that could be applied to several of our celebrations.
It has been 112 years since Anna Jarvis arranged for that celebration. Unfortunately, 2020 on Marco Island will probably be remembered more for what happened on that Saturday, than what had occurred on Sunday, when bouquets and beautiful Hallmark cards were opened for moms all over Collier County.
The Spring of 2020 will be known as the year of COVID-19 and one of which citizens of this nation and throughout the globe have been struggling against an invader no one could see, hear, or smell. It is one that has brought confusion and fear, as well as confusing messages and information from all segments of our society and governments.
Couple that with the fact it coincides with a national election in this nation, which sees words, campaign rhetoric and slogans honed to razor–sharp edges to gain the greatest advantage.
Yes, our citizens are hurting, and many have been out of work for weeks on end. Complicating the situation even more is the fact that many of those citizens work within small businesses that are owned by local residents that have everything they own wrapped up in those ventures. Those businesses account for 99.7% of U.S. employer firms and are the backbone of America.
Due to concerns regarding the spread of the virus, many of the outlets for relief of those tensions have been cut off from those citizens. It is no wonder that tensions are rising, and tempers are beginning to flare.
Just ask any parent that has taken on the role of the educator within those families, as well as their normal tasks as parents, and as the breadwinners. You can then understand their frustration levels and the strain they are working under.
Legislative bodies, such as the County Commissioners and the Naples and Marco Island City Councils have tried to deal with situations regarding the beaches, their parks and boat launching areas. All of those areas have come under great strain and criticism as of late. We have closed off those venues, opened them and have come under pressure to close them once again.
Compounding those issues is the fact that beaches and similar amenities on the East Coast of Florida are still located within a Pandemic Hot Spot. They have been left closed due to the inability of those who would use them and have failed to heed the rules regarding stricter guidelines for the safety of all, which we hope will eventually curb the spread of the terrible virus.
The weather has now become warmer and the sun was shining brightly on this last Saturday, providing the right atmosphere for a crazy day. Pent up desires to obtain access to the beaches within Collier County exploded by all involved. In addition to that, vendors hauled their personal watercraft across Alligator Alley. That influx overwhelmed the many public boat ramps with customers in tow that just wanted to have a good time on the water.
Goodland boat ramp, Caxambas Park, the 951 boat ramp, and the Bayview boat ramp all became overwhelmed. Cars encircled the Swallow Avenue county parking area to utilize the South Beach Access point to the beach. They moved a little north to fill up private parking lots down Winterberry Drive as well as the Turtle Lot.
They explored parking opportunities that are close to the Public Neighborhood Access Points while sliding cars into every available swale area, unloading their trucks, vans, and automobiles.
They were not all from the east coast, many were from up the 951 corridor and the explosion of growth from the many developments that now overwhelm that area. Yes, some may have found their way eventually to Tigertail Beach, but the vast majority wanted the wide white sandy beaches found just beyond the rows of high-rises just west of Collier Boulevard.
These are not bad people and they certainly do not deserve the attacks I have read on social media, but what did you expect to happen when we fail to look at the issues and the potential impact in a rational manner? Collier County Commissioner Penny Taylor and Andy Solis warned their fellow commissioners about the horrific consequences of not having a better plan.
The Marco Island City Council could have learned something from that debate at the Commissioners’ level. Naples City Councilor Gary Price called for the closing of the Naples Beaches upon his personal inspection on that Saturday. “It just wasn’t safe,” remarked Price. Naples closed their beaches at midnight on Saturday evening, pending an Emergency Naples Council Meeting on Monday at 1 PM.
Years ago, when the idea of the neighborhood beach access points was first discussed, many of us warned against doing it without adequate services to deal with sanitary and litter management, especially during peak holiday times. The idea was great but needed more planning.
The American Civil War saw families split and neighbors at war. The war of words on social media reminded me of what that must have been like, with the exception that musket balls were not flying across farmers’ fields and the only fatality may lie in the loss of friendships between individuals and families. The discourse on Saturday and Sunday was disheartening, to say the least.
Beach access Marco is found through the Collier County Beach Parking Area at Swallow Avenue at South Collier Boulevard, directly across from the Collier County South Beach Access walkway.
There are two City of Marco Island Neighborhood Beach Access Points—one at Winterberry and Collier Boulevard and the other at Maple Avenue and Collier Boulevard. Neither has public parking and minimal litter control.
The Marco Island Civic Association (MICA) manages what is known as Residents Beach, located at Collier Blvd and San Marco Road. The Residents Beach was developed by Deltona and the management became the responsibility of MICA. They have done a marvelous job of managing that wonderful asset for citizens of the island. Membership is required and the monies from that minimal fee are used to maintain the facilities found there. You must be a resident or owner of property on the island to qualify for that membership. MICA also manages Sarazen Park, located just across the street from the South Beach Access Point.
The MICA Residents Beach was pristine come Sunday morning, however, the South Beach area northerly to the two city access points was a disaster on Saturday due to the overcrowding of that area. There is no excuse for that bad behavior or the abuse of this wonderful asset to our community.
If I were to make a suggestion, it would be that access points across Marco be left open during the week and on the weekends the county access points are closed as well as the city’s neighborhood points. Failure to close those city points on the weekend will result in an unwanted impact on those neighborhoods east of Collier Boulevard.
MICA should continue to manage their facility at Collier and San Marco Road for use by MICA members during their normal weekend hours, as well as weekdays.
As far as the issue regarding “glass” on the beach goes, we have to get serious, we are fooling ourselves if we think a few signs will do it.
As islanders, we stepped up during the debate about straws and the impact they have on our wonderful wildlife and sea creatures. We should refocus our energies on doing the right thing about glass and ban it on the beaches. Let the fines start at $500, that should get someone’s attention and show that we are serious.