Monday, September 28, 2020

Letter to the Editor: Bill Thomas

 

 

THE CORE QUESTION IS THE IMPORTANT ONE

The Marriott proposal is so complex it has been difficult to identify the “core” of the issue for those of us who live on Marco Island. Even though Marriott has done a fine job of presenting their plans it’s been tough for residents to look beyond those formal presentations to identify any core issues that may adversely affect the happy Marco lifestyle.

The principal “core” issue, important to all residents, is the condition of Marco Island traffic, long term.

Most residents understand the construction traffic caused by the extended buildout period of such a project would be a relatively short term annoyance. However, the question in the minds of residents is what adverse traffic effects would the Marriott proposal bring to our Island, long term.

Marco’s infrastructure is a classic “what you see is what you get” and, some of it is aged and currently in need of repair. Unfortunately, making more streets isn’t possible and Collier Blvd. can accommodate only so many cars/trucks. During “season” that limitation becomes even more evident and painful.

The Marriott proposal doesn’t identify or mention concern for traffic-generating features of their plan, near term nor long term. They have done well in their attempt to beautify the garage and surrounding area, however,  there has been little mention or focus on any resulting traffic problem(s) that may be caused on Marco Island.

The addition of 84 new guest rooms. This part of the proposal is most important to the Marriott, because of its revenue production. By Marriott’s calculation the new rooms could account for 200 more guests each day, which translates to more cars, more traffic and congestion on Collier. Mysteriously, it was recently stated by a Marriott spokesman that “most guests do not drive”. That is an astounding statement and is very difficult to accept.

The expansion of their “meeting room” space by about 29,000 square feet. Marriott claims this is to “be competitive” in the marketplace. This enormous expansion will provide floorspace adequate to house significant conventions, not huge ones like those booked into Tampa or Orlando, but certainly larger than anything in this part of Florida. Large shows, exhibits and trade shows (and concerts) attract large crowds, many cars, and revenue. It’s a known fact that provisioning such shows literally requires caravans of trucks, in and out of the show place to set up and dismantle them, before and after the show. The car/truck traffic volume generated by such an ongoing convention activity could overwhelm our streets with cars and trucks, whenever scheduled. Of note, the proposed increase in their exhibit facility would position the Marriott to take the lead in all future convention activity in southern Florida, a frightening thought, traffic-wise; it’s a true “core” issue. From a practical “business” viewpoint it would be imperative for Marriott to generate as much “convention business” as possible to justify the enormous investment cost to enlarge plus the sizable expense to maintain such an immense “meeting space”. It’s all directly related to our “core” problem of traffic, traffic and more traffic.

Another important piece of the big picture for our City Council to consider is the proposed development of our neighboring communities, added to the 1,900 undeveloped lots on Marco. It’s said that Fiddlers Creek alone has 2,000 more homes to be built and there are probably hundreds of others on the drawing board right now. Surely most of these, and other new neighbors, will adopt Marco as their “back yard or favorite beach”. The additional Marco traffic that will be  generated by all of these other sources over time is a serious factor that must be considered.

To allow an undeterminable increase in Marco traffic caused by Marriott’s renovation request is not in the best long term interest of Island residents. Marco Island is simply not configured to accommodate such an increase in the potential volume of both car and truck traffic.

This “core” issue of traffic congestion is real and will cause a long term disruption throughout Marco Island. The issue was not addressed directly in “Planning” nor has it been elevated to broad open discussion in other forums, a regrettable oversight.

Our City Council should say NO to Marriott’s request.

 

– Bill Thomas – Marco Island

 

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