Marco Island Florida 

Marco Island Sewer System

Some residents say they need more information before forming opinion concerning the proposed sewer system.

Public debate is getting out of control over Marco’s proposed sewer project.  Residents are wary whether officials are making the right decision for the city.

There have been several surveys conducted over the years showing that the majority of residents favored an island wide sewer system, it seems many people have withdrawn their approval and now are either against the project or just don’t know what to think. 

Many appear to be confused and started over the big price tag of $20,000 and would like to see the cost absorbed by the City.

I don’t think there’s enough information presented yet to decide if it’s necessary,” said Ronald Groenke, a resident of the Tigertail district who opposes the project. “They kind of decided on their own and are trying to sell it.”

“It’s not a topic that you can get people all excited about,” said Dan Reiley, a part-time resident in favor of the project. “Nobody is happy about paying for (the sewer) ... but the cost is going to increase each year that it’s postponed.”

For many, the price tag to connect to the sewer keeps them from supporting the project.

“I could support the issue better if the cost were less,” Groenke said.

Ralph Wahl, a resident of the Copperfield district, said the city should cover the cost.

“It’s extremely expensive,” he said. “If they’re going to do this sewer project, they should pay for it out of taxes because it will belong to them, not me.”

Generally, people just want more information. Some contend they don’t know enough about the issue to make a fair judgment and think the city could have done a better job of informing people.

“I guess I really don’t know too much about it, but my opinion would be that generally sewers are better,” said Jim Halbert, a part-time resident in the Tigertail district. However, “the city hasn’t done such a hot job” of communicating with residents about the project, he said.

“I’m not totally against it,” said Eugene Stillwell, another resident of the Tigertail district. “And the reason is that I don’t think all of the facts have been brought out on all sides.”

The local political action committee that opposes the project, Citizens Advocating Responsible Environmental Solutions (CARES), has highlighted many of the questions residents have, such as the difference in quality between septic tanks and sewers. The group maintains that well-maintained septic tanks are a better option than a sewer system.

“I think they have some very valid points,” said Walter Jaskiewicz of the South Barfield district, referring to CARES. “I would like to see more information about how septic tanks can remain and be very workable. ... The city has a very good representation of what sewers can provide, but it’s very hard for a citizen to explain the value of septic tanks (at a City Council meeting).”

City Manager Bill Moss acknowledges that officials may not have done the best job of informing residents about the project.

“We were behind the curve in public education,” he said Dec. 20, saying city staff realized there was a problem in August during a public hearing scheduled for residents of the Tigertail and South Barfield districts.

“Most of the people at the hearing weren’t from those districts,” Moss said later. “Up until that point we were communicating only with people who were immediately affected.”

Now the city has initiated an effort to release more information to residents about the project. In addition to participating in a public forum with CARES this month, the city will distribute fliers and brochures in the coming weeks that will explain the program, the construction schedule and why the city chose sewers over septic tanks.

Regardless of their opinion of the project, many residents agree that sewers will have to be installed eventually.

"It appears to me that it is something that has to be done for the good of the environment and water quality of Marco Island.  I have spoken to my neighbors and they all agree that it should be done, and a taxing district set up to cover the costs over a 10 year period." said Tom Power.

“In the very, very long run, it will probably be a good thing for the island,” Stillwell said.

Another resident present said that the whole thing stinks and should just be left alone, the water quality is fine.  This person who wished to be anonomus said that perhaps the hook up should be paid for or completed when a house is built,or, if a tear down or addition is add.


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