Marco Island Florida,  New City Council Members Speak 

 

Forcht, 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 enough."
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 sewer project)."

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."

 


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