On Marco Island: Independent Reporting, Documenting Government Abuses, Exposing the Syndicate, Historical Records of Crimes Against the Environment

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Saturday, July 29, 2006

Some City Sidewalks In Serious Condition ...

Can the Staff at the City address the dilapidated condition of our sidewalks?

The state of these sidewalks poses a grave health hazard. This author is aware of two serious injuries caused by
these broken sidewalks.

A quick survey of the sidewalks, as revealed by over 30 pictures (all taken by this author on 7/29/2006), demonstrates that there are a number of sidewalk areas in desperate need of repair. Though the pictures may not depict the hazard, some of these uneven and broken elements are as great as a measured two inches. Given our geriatric community, such a lip causes a trip – as has already occurred causing serious injury.

The immediate addressing of this
issue would be greatly appreciated, and as such would eliminate a safety hazard.

For more pictures,

CLICK HERE FOR MORE DILAPIDATED SIDEWALK FULL-SIZED PICTURES.

3 Comments:

  • I'm not sure many Marco residents know it, but about a year ago (maybe it was a bit more recently) our City Fathers transferred the maintenance and liability for accidents on sidewalks from the City to the homeowner. Previously, the City maintained the sidewalks and accepted liability if someone tripped. Now it's up to you! Hope you have enough insurance to protect yourself if you're sued. But, don't dig up the sidewalk! The City still "owns" it along with the swale but it's your job to "maintain" them. (When will they transfer maintainence and liability for accidents occuring on the street to the homeowner?)

    When I learned I was liable, I called the City because several months before, the City marked two sections of walk in front of my house with paint to indicate that the City was going to replace them. I was told they marked so many that they decided to let the residents foot the bill. I had mine ground down by a contractor recommended by the City to avoid problems.

    By Anonymous Ed Foster, at Tuesday, August 08, 2006 9:13:00 AM  

  • I'm not sure many Marco residents know it, but about a year ago (maybe it was a bit more recently) our City Fathers transferred the maintenance and liability for accidents on sidewalks from the City to the homeowner. Previously, the City maintained the sidewalks and accepted liability if someone tripped. Now it's up to you! Hope you have enough insurance to protect yourself if you're sued. But, don't dig up the sidewalk! The City still "owns" it along with the swale but it's your job to "maintain" them. (When will they transfer maintainence and liability for accidents occuring on the street to the homeowner?)

    When I learned I was liable, I called the City because several months before, the City marked two sections of walk in front of my house with paint to indicate that the City was going to replace them. I was told they marked so many that they decided to let the residents foot the bill. I had mine ground down by a contractor recommended by the City to avoid problems.

    By Anonymous Ed Foster, at Tuesday, August 08, 2006 9:13:00 AM  

  • My reading of the city ordinance is slightly different. I agree that the owner needs to inspect their sidewalk. But what the ordinance does say is that if the damage was NOT caused by the owner, then the city will repair it upon being notified by the owner or his agent.

    So, if the sidewalk in front of my house is damaged and the damage is caused by something outside of my control or doing, then upon the city being notified, they will fix it. So ......... when the oak tree that the city planted in the city-owned swell starts growing and the roots tear up the sidewalk in front of my house, the city will repair it. Or so the ordinance says....

    The oridinance is moot on damaged sidewalks that are NOT reported by the owners. Namely it makes no mention if the city will do anything if a non-owner notifies the city. As in the expose on this blog, will the city do anything about the damaged and dangerous sidewalks that they have been alerted to - but alerted to by a non-owner (me) of of properties to where those bad sidewalks are?

    This is a big loophole that should be addressed.

    Here is the ordinance.

    ================
    Sec. 42-36. Duty of abutting property owners to construct and maintain sidewalks.
    (a) Generally. It shall be the duty of every owner of property to construct or reconstruct, maintain and keep in good condition and repair, sidewalks in front of or abutting upon the owner's property. It is unlawful for any owner, occupant or agent of any property to allow a sidewalk in front of or abutting such property to remain in a condition that renders it unsafe, dangerous or detrimental for the purpose for which it is intended. Any sidewalks damaged during new construction or renovation is presumed to be caused bythe owner or the owner's agent undertaking construction or renovation. It shall be the owner's responsibility to promptly repair or replace any sidewalk damaged during construction or renovation at the owner's expense.

    (b) Duty to inspect. A property owner, occupant or agent shall inspect all sidewalks in front of or abutting upon the owner's property for unsafe conditions. Where a sidewalk is in the public right-of-way and is in an unsafe condition, the property owner, occupant or agent thereof, or third party shall immediately notify the city of any unsafe condition by written notice. Upon investigation and determination by the city that the condition was not caused by action of the owner, occupant or agent thereof, or third party, the city will not charge the owner, occupant, agent or third party if the city repairs the condition. If it is determined that the owner, occupant or agent thereof, or third party caused the damage, then the person who caused the damage shall be required to repair or replace the damage in the manner provided in this division for the construction of new sidewalks at said person's own cost; or pay the city to make such repairs or replacement. If the property owner, occupant or agent thereof fails to notify the cityof any unsafe condition caused by a third party, the property owner, occupant or agent cannot raise the defense to a claim of liability that the unsafe condition was caused by a third party. If the owner, occupant, agent or third party does not repair or replace the damage or otherwise pay the city, the city shall assess the owner of the property for costs incurred by the city for repairs or replacement. Such assessment, if not paid within 30 days, shall become a lien against the property or as provided inthis Code or state law.

    (c) Encroachments. It is the duty of each owner of abutting property to maintain the sidewalk and driveway apron in such a way that it is free of overgrowth of grass, weeds, sand, debris, and encroachments. A clearance zone encompassing the entire width of the sidewalk by 7 1/2 feet in height shall be maintained. Vegetative encroachments are not permitted.

    By Anonymous mario, at Monday, August 14, 2006 12:14:00 PM  

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Sunday, July 23, 2006

An Olive Branch from a Member of CARES

Greetings Council Members and CARES:

I am writing about the recent article in the NDN issue of 7/22/06, in which Mr. Moss states, that CARES has gone from a "manageable annoyance" to a "serious" concern.

CARES has repeatedly asked to sit down with the city to try and resolve the STRP issues. Instead, the City has remained hard headed and refuses to admit that there may be serious problems involving equity with the STRP. This is all the more surprising when you hear that Councilors are working hard to present more equitable assessment proposals. Obviously, there are minds on the Council, that believe this to be possible and I suspect it is a majority. If this intransigence does not stop soon, I think Mr. Moss will be correct and the City will stand to loose a lot of money. If that happens, it can in no small part, be directly attributed to the City's unwillingness and inability to include citizens in an effort to resolve STRP issues.

The City made a mistake, it miscalculated the resolve and political strength of a significant group of citizens opposed to the STRP as it stands. We all make mistakes, but only foolish people cannot admit to them. It's about time the City and CARES resolve their differences and start working together for the good of the entire City. Statements such as "actions by a political action committee that causes grantors to question a city's integrity and commitment to fill obligations are unacceptable and should in no way be tolerated" are not helpful. False pride and misguided principals have been the downfall of many politicians and government officials. Surely, as Marco Islanders we need not be reduced to accusing or threatening each other in the press.

I understand and am sensitive to Mr. Moss's frustration over the CARES actions to delay the STRP. That said I do not believe that a government agency would accept unsubstantiated innuendos and misconceptions as a basis for not granting resources. It is the possibility of a project delay that threatens these resources not the City's integrity or commitment. If the current legal actions by CARES, as pertains to the STRP ceases, there will no longer be a threat of delaying the STRP. As a City, we can resolve the issues CARES is fighting to correct. Citizens not speaking to each other or not working together is not constructive and may well result in perceptions that the City is not committed to it's goals and is insensitive to it's citizen's concerns. These perceptions can only strengthen CARES not weaken it.

The City should not be surprised at the strength of resistance to the STRP. It is the first major infrastructure project in which citizens of Marco Island are to be directly assessed and probably the most expensive in all of South West Florida. It is also the largest infrastructure project to impact so many neighborhoods and residents in the City’s history. As currently established, these assessments will benefit so many and be paid for by so few. It is normal for citizen's to question a project that will significantly impact their financial well being. A project that the City is unable to completely justify to the very citizens it wants to pay for it.

I know that some of our Councilors value citizen input and participation. I have seen evidence of this in responses to questions I have previously posed to Council members. Some enlightened members have even reached out to their constituents by holding town meetings and others have aggressively solicited citizen input. To believe that only elected representatives are capable of understanding and acting on all the issues before it, especially over a project of this magnitude, would be tremendously egotistical.

It is time for the City to find the courage to step forward and sit down with CARES to resolve the concerns of a substantial group of Marco Island Citizens and make the STRP more equitable. Let's move forward and put these differences behind us. To not do so is irresponsible.

I am confident that if both sides make an honest effort, the STRP can be modified to meet the goals of all concerned.

Byron Erickson

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Friday, July 21, 2006

News of the Weird

East Winterberry Bridge
The city is waiting for the Coast Guard to approve the permit to fix the bridge – a new process despite other bridges having been fixed without it. The citizens of Marco Island have spoken: except for the four greedy people that straddle the bridge and the two Titanic-sized boat owners, no one wants the bridge raised. Place your bets: the bridge will be raised.

The Effects of Selling out to Corporate America
Some time ago the city gave away the ownership to the beach/access at the Marriott with the condition that the city will retain right of access/use. Efforts by a hearing-impaired young lady to petition the city for use at this locale have been stymied because … the city needs to get permission from Mass Mutual (the owners of the Marriott properties). And since Mass Mutual doesn’t respond …

At some time someone is going to look east, and unearth the recent history where the people of Miami Beach finally got fed up with the sellout of their beaches and sued to get them back. They won. Today no commercial entity owns any beach and access is ensured by law. We can only hold our breath here for such a novel approach to arrest the sellout and get back what belongs to all of us.

Sewers Are Better

Since nearly everyone on Marco relies exclusively on CNN and the daily rag for what is passed as news, quoting scientific studies and presenting the obvious is futile. But here is a source that the over-90 generation may appreciate. Yesterday, June 20, Paul Harvey reported that the most polluted area, causing the most serious diseases, in the United States is … the California coastline from Ventura County (approx. 1 hour north of Los Angeles) to the Mexican border. Why? Because the SEWAGE TREATMENT PLANTS ARE PUMPING SEWAGE INTO THE OCEAN.

Yes, a conspiracy by CARES no doubt. But for what its worth, a la John the Baptist screaming into the wilderness, this author lived in the death zone for years. Illness was a common way of life for nearly everyone. Worse, we were told by our elected officials that use of septic tanks was out of the question because they (the septic tanks that is) would harm the environment. And that only the government knows how to deal with the sewage and that there are laws and regulations and oversight and planning committees to ensure that the plants will not harm the environment.

Guess what. The plants are DESTROYING the environment and the people that live there.

Ok, now try this. If a governmental agency (the sewage treatment plant) fails, then it’s up to the government (the city, the county, the state and the feds) to act. Government vs. Government – yep, that is really effective. Which is the experience in California. The most environmentally regulated state in the country is the most polluted as the government organs digest the issue amongst them with no eye or concern to its citizens.

Same won’t happen here in Florida?

The government has no vested interest to act properly. Those that are forcing an unpopular decision are not going to be here when the effects of their decisions begin to impact our lives and the lives or our children (a la California). Don’t believe it?

Any of you believers in the government is the solution to everything ever heard of Florida Bay? That it’s dead? That it’s dead because of governmentally-regulated pumping of farming pollutants into Lake Oke
echobee by the agribusiness industrial complex? And how long have there been studies upon studies studying the problem and attempting to derive a solution? Read: Florida Bay is dead – does that mean anything?

Be guarded, very guarded as to what our government can and is willing to do for us. At least on the sewer issue, California is a model of what we may face, and Lake Okeechobee/Florida Bay is what we already face.

5 Comments:

  • Mario, the City needs you. Consider running for a City Council slot in the next election. There are three current members that favor destroying our community and environment leaving and our City needs good replacements that want to preserve what we have.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sunday, July 23, 2006 6:23:00 AM  

  • Your comment: "East Winterberry Bridge, The city is waiting for the Coast Guard to approve the permit to fix the bridge – a new process despite other bridges having been fixed without it" isn't quite correct. The Coast Guard cannot approve a permit UNTIL they receive the permit application. As of today, they have not. Also, the "new process" isn't new, and has been in effect for years.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at Monday, July 24, 2006 8:48:00 AM  

  • You are absolutely correct - I stand corrected - it is not a "new" process.

    I meant to use "new" in quotes, obscuredly implying that its NEW to people who should have known better - the city. Ergo my comment "... despite other bridges having been fixed without it".

    I apologize for the confusing wrong info!

    Mario

    By Anonymous Mario, at Monday, July 24, 2006 9:47:00 AM  

  • The US Coast Guard and City of Marco Island held a Public Hearing on Wednesday, July 19, 2006, to receive public input regarding replacement of the Winterberry Bridge. City Staff has recommended to "Replace in kind" at a cost of 5.2 million dollars. However, the Coast Guard has requested other alternatives to be looked at; to include increasing vertical bridge height 6" or 24", which would require a purchase of adjacent properties, increasing costs 12-24 million dollars. These are our tax dollars - All Marco property owners will pay for this bridge replacement!
    The Coast Guard also asked if the City had looked at taking the bridge out and NOT replacing it--how ludicrous is that!!! Winterberry Drive is a major evacuation route as well as main traffic artery. The suggestion by the Coast Guard once again demonstrates that agencies that are not familiar with our unique paradise do not understand the ramifications of their actions.
    Please visit www.marcobridges.com and take a Survey which is sent to the Coast Guard! Bill McMullan

    By Blogger Star, at Tuesday, August 08, 2006 2:37:00 PM  

  • Over 900 Marco Property owners have taken the Survey!!!!!!!!! visit www.marcobridges.com

    Winterberry Bridge----Your Tax Dollars!!! Spend $5.2 million dollars or $19 million dollars, plus loss of homes--your choice!!!!!! Please take survey!!!!!!

    The Marco Island City staff has recommend a "Replace in Kind" for the Winterberry Bridge at a cost of approx. 5.2 million dollars. (Design is similiar to the S. Barfield and N. Barfield Bridge replacements.)

    The US Coast Guard is requiring a full permit process (was not required for the previous bridge replacements) requiring alternatives to be looked at that take the price tag to over 19 million dollars and require adjacent owners to lose their homes. One suggestion was made--not to replace the bridge! As you are aware, Winterberry is a major though-fare and evacuation route for the Island, it's obvious the Coast Guard is not familiar with our unique Island!

    The Coast Guard held a Public Hearing on July 19,2006 at Mackle Park, Marco Island. Approx. 200 property owners attended and upon a show of hands only four in the audience were in support of any alternative other than "Replace-in-kind".

    The Coast Guard is taking comments from the Public for the next 30 days--please visit www.marcobridges.com or click on: www.marcobridges.com and take the Survey which is sent to the US Coast Guard and your elected officials.

    Please visit the site and make your voice heard--if there is more than one adult in your household, have all fill out a survey!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at Tuesday, August 08, 2006 3:10:00 PM  

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Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Then and Now


Then, the city missed a crucial opportunity by which assuage the overwhelming concern and confusion of the citizens of Marco island by simply putting the matter to a vote via a referendum. I suspect that this strategy did not take place due to the hubris of some in the city council and some in the city administration that believe that the citizens are not capable of making informed decisions. We spent too much time on wild goose chases, such as counting fecal matter in the canals - when there weren't any worth mentioning (other than the fecal matter put there by the birds and the fish). While I do not believe it was a conspiracy, it certainly was a lack of judgment in terms of acting as a representative form of government.

Now, we are in the sewer (no put intended) of the judicial system. With its corrupt and activist judges, expecting an equitable and legal solution is sheer banality. There is a good portion of the citizens of Marco that have become alienated from their government, more so when one has to endure the cynical comments of certain council members. Notwithstanding the ill nature of these council members (why they hold public office is a mystery - other than for furthering their commercial endeavors), it is clearly up to the city to act to make amends. Why? Because the citizens have a right to petition their government, and seek redress.

The city council needs to stop listening to their lawyers, the denizens of the corrupt judicial process, and talk to ALL of its citizens - especially the ones that they deem to be adversarial. A government that views its citizens as adversarial is found in such places as Cuba, N. Korea, China. But to find such a stance in a democratic republic as the U.S. escapes this immigrant - from Cuba. A state that sees as its citizens as adversarial denies its own existence because a state is composed of its own people, and thus it must work with itself to be true to the tenets of the republic.

Recall "… and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth. "

The city council needs to talk and listen and actively seek an amicable resolution - for the benefit of the community.

Mario R. Sanchez, Ph.D.

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Thursday, July 06, 2006

July 4, 2006 By Ed Foster

Two hundred and thirty years ago today, 56 men representing 13 British Colonies signed a remark­able document – The Declaration of Independence. From that day forward, this document has served as the beacon of hope for the downtrodden and celebrated wherever free men gather. Sign­ing that document was a dangerous act. Each man knew he risked home, fortune, family and, yes, his very life to follow his conscience. Nor did the signers have unanimous support – there were vested interests that preferred to remain tied to Great Britain – but the signatories had the support of the majority, or this nation would never have become free.

When you read through the document as I have just done, you are struck by the fact that it can be distilled into simple terms. There is a shopping list of grievances but they boil down to: “Your Majesty doesn’t listen to us; you do not respond to our grievances; you tax us for things we don’t want; you do not give us the rights afforded to other British subjects; and, you ignore any British law that limits your authority.”

Two hundred and thirty years later, the citizens of Marco Island are faced with a similar dilemma … not nearly so important, but important enough. The STRP is being forced upon us despite the objec­tion of 80% to 90% of the residents who are affected. Our wealth is taken to buy existing users a new WWTP. Valid justification based on public-health or environmental grounds has been ceded. The only remaining justification is “The King has spoken.” We write letters to the Council and half the councilors ignore them. Some even threaten to put us on their SPAM list. We ask questions of the City Manager and they are not answered. We demand answers under Chapter 119 of the State Stat­utes and we get double-talk. We are frustrated every way we turn … and we are the majority!

The City replaces State Law with its own law citing “Home Rule,” and then refuses to follow its own law. City Ordinance Section 2-375 provides no other means of temporarily funding a capital project other than short-term notes approved by the City Council. Regardless of the law, the City Manager and City Finance Director take it upon themselves to dip into emergency cash reserves for funding … in a hurricane season, no less! This is the final straw.

We have provided the City with a solution to our WWTP problem that is equitable, inexpensive and non-disruptive. For $6 to $8 a month on present sewer users – the ones who have used the system for 30+ years and worn out the infrastructure – the plant can be refurbished to meet City require­ments through build-out WITHOUT adding a single new user to the system. This is a trivial amount – less than the 5% tax imposed on our electric bills to help LCEC bury overhead wires. It solves our problem, ends the disruptive STRP in its tracks and, with that, the lawsuits.

Over the past 9 months, I have learned that the only way to impose discipline on the City govern­ment is to appeal to our State government. When the City ignored our discovery of asbestos con­tamination and denied it existed, an appeal to Governor Bush brought the FDEP into action, forced the City to initiate cleanup, and locked down the contaminated areas of the Glon Property pending resolution of the overall problem. Meanwhile the FDEP assured us that it was keeping close watch on North Collier construction to prevent another occurrence. When the City Public Utility Director played fast and loose with lift-station height regulations and ignored our protests, a complaint to FDEP brought the City into compliance. When the same Public Utility Director ignored regulations regarding containment of construction debris in the Tigertail district, a complaint to the Southwest Florida Water Management District brought a rebuke and demand for compliance.

It is clear that the City of Marco Island will not follow rules or regulations unless forced to do so by a higher authority. Once again, I will be forced to turn to the State for help. I expect to be castigated and pilloried for taking this action as I have been for my past actions in defense of the people, but I cannot stand by and see this administration flaunt the law.

Ed Foster Chairman, C.A.R.E.S., Inc.

www.marcocares.com cares@marcocares.com

(239) 394-5835

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Open Letter to the City Coucil - By Butch Neylon

July 3, 2006

Dear Councilors:

With over forty years experience in the construction industry much of it in the Water and Wastewater areas, I have been involved in all aspects of the design, construction, commissioning, operation and maintenance of Sewage Collection and Treatment Facilities. I have been involved in the planning and budgeting process relating specifically to improving many wastewater collection and treatment facilities.

Some of my more recent projects include major upgrades to the collection system and treatment plant for the city of Lowell, Massachusetts, a 120-MGD facility, substantial upgrades to the wastewater treatment facility for the town of Adams, Massachusetts, a 10-MGD facility, substantial improvements to the pumping stations and treatment plants in the communities of Mystic, Stonington, and Pawacutuck, Connecticut consisting of multiple pump stations and three treatment plants along the Connecticut shoreline that handle a combined total of 7-MGD, upgrades to multiple pumping stations and a complete overhaul of the 180-MGD Bondi Island WWTP for Springfield, Massachusetts, and the addition of several pumping stations, improvements to existing pumping stations, and installation of new instrumentation and control systems at the 10-MGD wastewater treatment plant for the town of Enfield, Connecticut.

These are a few recent projects in which I have been involved, and I respectfully submit that my background and experience in this area qualifies me to speak to the issues confronting Marco Island with regard to the STRP. Every statement that follows is supportable and verifiable; I will be only too pleased to provide data and backup documentation for all assertions contained herein.

Improving Marco’s wastewater treatment plant and failing infrastructure is necessary regardless of whether the collection system is extended. Although there is some disagreement over this, plant capacity must also be increased to provide for undevloped lots already served by the sewer system, as well as for future development to build-out.

The initial cost analysis to rebuild the treatment plant exceeded $50 million, and ultimately grew to $68 million as the Utility opted for the more expensive MBR technology. Recovering this via the rate structure was not thought to be feasible because sewer rates would have more than doubled and existing users would have rebelled. Other sources of funds had to be found. At that time, it was assumed that septic systems were a health hazard and were polluting our waterways, and the STRP was born of these two parents; the need for additional funds to upgrade our WWTP and the presumption of pollution and health hazards caused by onsite treatment. In fact, the capacity charge portion of the special assessments was designed specifically to fill in the funding shortfall while providing some rationale for rebuilding the plant at the expense of new users. The STRP met with serious opposition, even more so now that the health and pollution claims have been disproved.

It is time to take a new look at funding the needed improvements for the WWTP based upon what we know today, and in light of the recent passage and signing into law of HB-149 it is doubtful that the STRP will remain intact for the entire 7-years as proposed. Therefore, funding for the WWTP must be crafted in a way that does not rely upon the STRP to raise money. Fortunately, this can be done! There is another – and far more equitable – way to rebuild the WWTP without perpetuating the STRP and the stiff opposition accompanying it.

This is a simple plan, one that has already been initiated and needs only to be formalized to stop the contention and put an end to lawsuits once and for all. The plan involves reducing the expenditure to rebuild the treatment plant by doing only what is necessary to correct the problem. In short, it calls for the Marco Island Utility to live within its means.

When the first phase of the Wastewater Treatment Plant construction – the so-called “substantial improvement” phase – is complete this fall, the plant will consist of one new 3.0-MGD MBR train and two existing 1.25-MGD conventional trains for a total plant capacity of 5.5-MGD. Projected cost is less than $30 million, of which $7 million is available from covenants of the 2003 bond issue, and applying grants and impact fees will reduce the amount by up to $8 million more.

There are two ways to pay for these improvements: sell a new revenue bond to fund the improvement and add the bond cost to the rate, or levy a one time assessment to existing users to pay for the new system. The first option will add between $6.00 and $8.00/per month to the sewer rate depending on the application of existing funds, grants and impact fees. The second option would require a one time fee between $1,000 and $1,500 per existing user and although there are significant interest savings to be realized by this method, it may be politically less palatable.

There are other advantages to stopping construction after the initial phase is complete. MBR is more expensive to operate and maintain than conventional treatment. It requires highly skilled and trained operators, and it is technically more difficult to maintain a balance of treatment capacity and low odor emission. In short, MBR is much less forgiving than conventional treatment. Taking this into account a hybrid plant consisting of, (3.0 MGD MBR and 2.5 MGD Conventional), has environmental, safety, and operational advantages over a 100% MBR plant. This hybrid plant will also have significantly lower operating costs which will ultimately be reflected in lower rate increases as energy costs rise. During times when the island is less populated and flows are lower, it may be possible to take the MBR train off line for maintenance and run the conventional trains, thereby producing a substantial savings in operating costs.

Furthermore if the 5.5-MGD capacity is reserved for the areas where it is needed, (the high density area of Collier Boulevard and other commercial areas presently served by the existing sewage collection system), then there will be enough capacity for these users through build out, and well into the foreseeable future. There is no need to sewer the neighborhoods, as the existing septic systems are not posing a public health hazard, causing any pollution of our waterways, and the expansion of the user base is no longer necessary to fund the plant improvements.

We can put an end to the lawsuits, stop digging up our neighborhoods, put Marco Island Utilities on an even keel with renewed infrastructure and a plant that will not be a burden on all of us for between $6.00 and $8.00/month added to the sewer rate. If the existing plan is carried out sewer rates will rise at least twice that amount and the island will experience 7 to 10 years of ongoing construction. As new information becomes available it is prudent to revisit recent decisions in light of that new knowledge, and, if appropriate, make whatever modifications are deemed necessary to improve the overall result of the original decision. As our elected officials you can do no less.

Respectfully,
Butch Neylon

3 Comments:

  • Not only does this plan meet the stated objectives of the City Council, it's reduced costs are hard to ingnore. Now that an alternative exists, either the City Council debates this proposal or let's have a referndum on the next ballot. The citizens of our city are capable of choosing the right plan if the City Council will not.

    By Anonymous Raymora, at Friday, July 07, 2006 4:22:00 PM  

  • If the citizens of Marco Island do not want sewers why not collect the necessary signatures like POP and let the citizens vote for or against sewers? Seems like it would be a lot less expensive than paying the laywers and the citizens would have the final say.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at Tuesday, July 11, 2006 10:43:00 PM  

  • CARES looked into a referendum way back when. The City hinted it couldn't be done ... and they may be right.

    The City Charter permits "ordinances" to be challenged by a referendum, that is, if the council passes an ordinance that the citizens don't like, the citizens have 45 days to collect enough signatures (10% of the electorate) to demand that the ordinance be put to a referendum. Until the referendum gets voted on, the ordinance doesn't go into effect.

    The Council and City Manager created the STRP via "resolutions" instead of "ordinances." Whether that's cricket is up for debate. It's my understanding that short-term relatively inexpensive projects can be done by resolution but long-term expensive projects like the STRP should properly be done by ordinance ... but you'd have to prove that in court and that could get dicey.

    The point of the issue is that the City Charter has no provision for subjecting a "resolution" to a referendum so if CARES tried to bring the STRP to a referendum, we'd get shot down by the City Attorney who has to approve "the form" of the referendum. We'd first have to challenge the City in court that they acted improperly by using resolutions instead of ordinances, get the court to agree, have the city then pass ordinances to replace the resolutions and then call for each ordinance to be subjected to referendum. We just didn't think it was worth the effort ... but who knows?

    By Blogger CARES-Chair, at Wednesday, July 12, 2006 4:51:00 PM  

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Monday, July 03, 2006

POP’s Proposed Amendment to the City Charter

Marco Island Voters:

I’d like to correct a misconception concerning POP’s proposed amendment to the City Charter. The newspapers incorrectly stated that POP wants the City Manager to be elected by the people instead of being hired by the city council. This is NOT TRUE. POP’s amendment would continue having the City Manager HIRED by the city council as is presently done. The problem lies is in how a HIRED City Manager is terminated or fired from his position. At present, only a vote of four or more councilmembers can fire the HIRED CM, regardless of how badly that individual performs his job. Even if the entire Marco Island population wants him/her removed, they can do nothing about it as long as only four (4) councilmembers believe that their CM “walks on water”. The only recourse left to the people is to hopefully elect a city council that might one day remove that CM. Of course, this could take many years, especially since many elected councilmembers seem to change their positions more often than their underwear. We, the public, are left helpless at the hands of just four councilmembers and one City Manager. Thus, a “gang of five” could conceivably rule our island for years.

POP’s amendment to our City Charter, if you approve it, would continue allowing the city council to hire a city manager as usual. However, every two years after that, the voters will have the right to approve or disapprove that city manager’s job performance. If we approve, life is good for everyone. However, if the people disapprove of his/her job performance, that city manager gets terminated. Simple. This is called “public affirmation” and definitely is NOT an ‘election” or a “popularity vote” a few opponents try to smear it as. It’s a serious job evaluation that every employee, whether a worker or a CEO, undergoes, even if his father owns the business.

Our present city manager, Bill Moss, has publicly stated he will resign if this amendment is passed. Apparently he feels his job performance wouldn’t get a passing grade by the Marco public. Maybe he’s right and maybe not. Remember that this change gives you the right to approve as well as to disapprove. That’s important. Even more interesting is that councilmen Minozzi and Tucker, pillars of the public’s interests, have promised to prevent the people from voting on this amendment. Their notion seems to be that only the council should have the power to fire a city manager and the voting public should stay out of it. Another claim is that there might not be applicants for a job that requires a public vote of confidence every two years. POP feels that such a shaky individual doesn’t belong in Marco’s most powerful office to begin with. Marco Island deserves an administrator that is not frightened of public scrutiny every couple of years.

POP’s proposed amendment, if you approve it, will go a long way to moving the voters back up the city’s order of priorities, perhaps even a bit ahead of the developers, real estate and tourism trades. Right now, given the force-fed sewer scheme, resident’s opinions seem completely irrelevant to the city. POP has spearheaded the effort to give you better control over the direction of Marco Island. The rest is up to you. Amendment petition forms for registered voters are available at POP’s website, PreserveOurParadise.com or call 642-6845. Many thanks.

Russ Colombo, Chairman
Preserve Our Paradise

2 Comments:

  • Sounds like a good idea to me. Only someone disinterested in citizen participation could be against this proposal. True democracy is all about citizen participation, what we have now is a dictatorship by council. Councilman Tucker has publicly stated that he no longer listens to citizens that disagree with him. If our city council would take their jobs seriously, Marco Island wouldn't be in this mess. Another good amendment would be to require council members to sign an affadavit swearing that they have no financial interest in nor will they accept any future financial gain from any multi-million dollar projects they support while in office.

    By Anonymous Raymora, at Tuesday, July 04, 2006 6:34:00 AM  

  • I think I now understand POPs. I can not see any reason the city or the citizens should be affraid of this proposal. Let the citizens have a say throughout the term of any city person. Dont we pay their salary?

    Good idea.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at Tuesday, July 04, 2006 4:10:00 PM  

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