Island Florida, New City Council Members Speak
the top vote-getter in the Marco Island City Council election,
celebrated his victory at the Snook Inn on Tuesday night. He
joked and said that he will present a resolution at the City
Council meeting Monday night that all council meetings be held
at the Inn. "It's a relaxed place where people can
participate," he said. "They can call out questions
and we don't have a four-minute light here." Forcht
also said that his goal was to run a clean campaign based on
the issues. "We ran it strictly on the
issues," he said. "At no point did anybody who was
associated with my campaign ever get into
personalities." Forcht will tackle health care
"I really want to look into what we are doing with our
24-hour health care," Forcht said. "If we are a
tourist and resort community and have seniors that come here
during the winter months, then we really need to have 24-hour
health care." He noted that the new hospital being
constructed on state Route 951 is still not close enough to
serve Marco Island. "I think what we need to worry
about is what's on our side of the bridge," he said.
"Anytime you have to leave the island, nothing is close
Forcht said he will investigate having 24-hour helicopter
ambulance service for the island as well as the Isles of
Capri. "It's an important issue for people who are
retiring down here and seniors who are spending vacation time
here," he added.
Popoff wants to "repair" the island, "We
need to bring back some civility and some decorum and some
harmony back to our island," said Rob Popoff, who
garnered the second most votes on Tuesday. "Before we do
anything, we need to set the record straight that we all want
to do what's best for Marco Island." Popoff wants
the new council to work on "community
repairing." He added that he will try to build
relationships, "open up doors" and build coalitions
with county and state officials so that the city has a
statewide voice. "The number one thing that we need to
worry about is what our island is going to look like 20 years
from now," he added. "We're not going to make
decisions based on today, but based on tomorrow."
Kiester wants to acquire Tract K , The Collier County School
Board wants to sell the 11-acre parcel known as Tract K,
located on Tigertail Court between Century and Hernando Drives
on Marco Island. Chuck Kiester, the third newly elected
City Council member, wants the city to take possession of the
land. "We need to see what we can do with working with
the school board and keeping that in the public domain,"
he said. Kiester suggested that the city could use the
parcel for a park and softball fields. "I'd hate to see
it become condos or single family housing," he added.
Winners want to stop - or cancel - septic program Forcht said
that he is still against the city's Septic Tank Replacement
Program (STRP). He wants the city to do more testing of
the waterways and to collect enough data to prove "to my
satisfaction" that a city-wide sewer system is needed.
"I just don't think that we have the slightest idea of
whether we need this or not," he noted. Popoff said
that the city will need a city-wide sewer system
"somewhere down the line. Are they an emergency? Do we
need them tomorrow? No." Like Forcht, he wants to
"slow down" or "stop the process," gather
research and evidence that shows that the project is
needed. "The voters spoke very loud and clear and
told us that they want the project slowed or stopped,"
Popoff said. Kiester is completely against proceeding with the
STRP. "We have sufficient evidence now to suggest
that septic systems can work," he said. "Why dig up
all the streets of Marco and create, in my opinion, an
environmental mess with all that water that would have to be
pumped out into the canals as they were constructing (the
All three want the Glon property cleaned up. Forcht
noted that the city is still using the Glon property at Park
Avenue and Elkcam Circle for a construction staging area.
"I just think they need to stop that," he said.
"It's against what we voted on as a city to do with that
property." He, Popoff and Kiester said the city
should remove everything off the site and make it into a
Veterans Park and "green space." "It's not a
very nice memorial to our veterans now," Popoff said.
"It should be vacant land right now or plans should be
put in place to turn it into a park."
One of the first actions that Forcht will take as a council
member is to ask the Marco Island Public Works Department for
"actual" data from the city's road construction
contractor. He wants to see if the company is disposing of all
the asbestos products being removed and what the "best
practices" for the disposal are. "I need to
see hardcore data from both sides in print," he
said. Kiester is also concerned about the possibility of
asbestos contaminating the environment. "It's
becoming such as mess now as you know about hearing about the
asbestos situation," he said. "I don't know what's
going to happen there - legally or regulatory-wise - with the
EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) and perhaps the DEP
(Florida Department of Environmental Protection)."
Essential housing on the island? Forcht and Popoff said
that developer Darrell Brown's proposal to buy a 3.8-acre
parcel of the Glon property and build affordable housing for
essential service employees is a good proposal, but not for
the Glon property. "I fully support that type of
project," Popoff said. "But I don't think it's
realistic on Marco Island."
Forcht did concede that, if Brown puts the proposal on the
ballot as a referendum and the voters approved the proposal,
"As a city councilman, I have to respect what the people
say." Kiester said that Brown should look at buying
the 11-acre Tract K property for essential service housing.
Council should form committees
Forcht would like to see a new committee system on the council
to research issues and projects.
He suggested that committees should be formed with one member
of the council, two private citizens who are for an issue and
two who are against it. The five-member committee would be
assisted by city department staff.
No bridge toll
All three newly-elected council members are against having a
toll added to the Judge S.S. Jolley bridge. "Where are
you going to put the toll on the Goodland bridge?" Forcht
said. "Because if you don't put a toll on the Goodland
bridge, everybody will switch off bridges and your toll will
not gain any money." Kiester said that it's
"ridiculous" that the Florida Department of
Transportation is spending $1 million to look at the
feasibility of implementing a toll. "They need to
be putting that money towards building a new bridge or, at
least, to come up with some designs for a new bridge," he
said. According to Kiester, the city needs
representation on the Metropolitan Planning Organization,
which deals with scheduling and allocating funds for
transportation projects. "We need to have them move
up in priority the improvement to the Jolley bridge," he
said. "It just simply can't wait until 2015 or whenever
it's scheduled for now."