Saturday, June 12, 2021

The Quest for a Perfect Paradise

A considerable amount of discussion has taken place regarding what the future holds for this community, as we attempt to create a vision for what will be required of city services.

Projections for growth off island along the 951 corridor heading north to I-75, as well as areas east of I-75 require planners at the state, county and city levels to consider the impact it will have on infrastructure, water quality, and transportation needs.

The vision which the Mackle brothers and Deltona Corporation had has certainly changed as the reality of 50 plus years of development evolved.  Some of it has been on the positive side, while some may argue that the original vision has been negatively impacted by some of the growth experienced.

One area of the discussion revolves around how much more growth is anticipated on the island itself.  Some residents believe we have approached what some refer to as “build-out.”  The term refers to how many vacant lots are available to be built upon.  Research on that matter has shown the following data:

The total single-family home lots on the island number 8,582.  Of those, 7,033  lots have been built on or are scheduled to be built on, leaving a total of 1,549 buildable single-family home lots.

Waterfront lots equaled 5,708 with 2,655 of those being direct access, and the remaining 3,053 are categorized as indirect access.

Today there are 447 direct access lots that remain vacant and another 508 indirect access lots remain vacant.

The years 2001 through 2006 saw a building boom here on the island.  During that time, 1,104 single family homes were built on the island.  Another 282 existing single-family homes were torn down.   During the same period, 1,870 new multi-family units were constructed on the island.  The years 2004 and 2005, we saw 639 and 614 multi-family units built respectively.

The island began to emerge from the recession of 2008 around 2012 and has continued to grow steadily since that time, although the larger numbers seen in early 2000-2005 were lacking.

New commercial growth can be seen both on and off the island and the number of “tear-downs” is again on the rise.  Bald Eagle Drive alone has seen three new commercial buildings erected in the last several months to house a bank, a new paint store and a national liquor chain.

The Marco Island Planning Board,  Marco Island City Council and the city’s planning staff have continued to grapple with the impact of a rebounding economy while balancing the effects of “quality of life issues,” as the pressures of growth continue to mount.

“It really is a balancing act between so many entities,” said Frank Mulligan, a former member of the Marco Island Planning Board.  “Decisions we make today will be felt long into the future. Unfortunately, sometimes common sense doesn’t come into view until after we’ve made decisions that may have unintended consequences,” said Mulligan.

The challenge of how to deal with stormwater issues, water quality issues, and the increased need for parking while providing the community with a focused vision for the future at the same time is an elusive quest.  The quest is to balance the resident’s calls to maintain what they perceive as their vision of a paradise they believe in.   

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