County Commissioner Provides City Council and Residents with Updates

District 1 County Commissioner Rick LoCastro provided an update to Marco Island City Council and residents Monday evening. The commissioner confronted the problems expressed to him by the inhabitants of the island and expressed the efforts of the county to find solutions.

LoCastro began its update by focusing on Caxambas Park, which is increasingly at the center of complaints about lack of parking and traffic control. Collier County recently implemented a dockmaster to control the flow and enforce parking permits, but LoCastro realizes there are still issues at the park. Late last month, the county sent Marco Island staff a site development proposal on how the parking lot can be redone, but has not yet been forwarded to city council.

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Restoring Tigertail Beach was the next step in LoCastro’s update, including trying to fix the situation for dealers on the beach.

“It’s no secret that Tony Smith was Tigertail’s long-time dealer, his county contract ended in a way I wouldn’t be proud of if I was in the job at the time. “, said LoCastro. “But we’re trying to undo some of those things from the past.”

According to LoCastro, the county is evaluating options on how to improve the experience for beachgoers at Tigertail.

Sunset over Tigertail Beach, Marco Island.

“We’re looking at what’s going on there now and how we can improve customer service there, either with the current dealership or what we’re looking at is maybe mutually ending that contract because I I’m not so sure dealers are happy with the lack of activity and see what we can supply Tigertail,” LoCastro said. “At a minimum, we want to be able to provide water and rental gear and things like that and have a great operation at the main gate for parking.”

The county has put up signs at Goodland Bridge stating that it is illegal to camp overnight at the site due to complaints from people who retreat to the side of the road at night.

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“If you’re doing this for an emergent reason, that’s one thing,” LoCastro said. “But if you’re basically using that area as a campground and then leaving all your rubbish behind, we’ve put up these signs recently and we’ll be patrolling frequently to make sure that at dusk people come out there and we don’t have not a whole bunch of people were running businesses there, which was also a problem, or camping overnight.

There will soon be a mobility mat in South Beach to get wheelchairs closer to the water. The county aims to have 189 feet of mat approved by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). The county got 150 feet approved immediately, with 50 feet allowed to remain 24/7 and 100 feet to be removed during turtle season. FWC approved the additional 39 feet, but the DEP is still going back and forth with the county.

LoCastro mentioned plans to improve the South Beach pedestrian walkway from the parking lot to the beach that crosses Collier Blvd.

A man rents a kayak at Tigertail Beach Park on July 6, 2020.

“You know, you can sit here, and debate if the county owns it, does the city own it, we’re going to make command decisions,” LoCastro said. “Granted, this crosswalk is not a $10 million project, so let’s do it. In the end, it’s quite a big pot of money if you really look at it that way.

Part of the design, which is 60% complete, adds more lighting and requires some trenching and pulling power in the area.

“A lot of people who use this beach access mat find our parking lot in this county lot, people in wheelchairs, moms and dads with strollers and people with disabilities, so we want to make sure that is the safest pedestrian crossing,” LoCastro said.

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Litter on the beach is something LoCastro said he receives a considerable number of emails about, and he said it’s the bather who also has a duty to keep the beach clean.

“One of the things I say to citizens is that if you see someone’s garbage and you walk away, it’s like watching someone break into a car and say that someone one should call a cop,” LoCastro said. “You have to do something about it. We all have a responsibility.

County Commissioner Rick LoCastro speaks.  Marco Island City Council and the Collier County Board of Commissioners held a joint meeting Tuesday in the Collier County Government Center Commission Chambers, discussing issues including the erosion of Tigertail Beach and the overcrowding of the Caxambas park.

LoCastro provided an update on the potential food truck fleet reportedly being built on the Isles of Capri. The county planning board recommended approval of the food truck fleet on the residential property, but the county commissioners voted unanimously against the recommendation. The plaintiff filed a special hearing to appear before a special magistrate to have the vote overturned, which was due to take place this week.

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“I’m here to tell you that the plaintiff withdrew their request to have a special meeting, so now the case is completely dead,” LoCastro said. “I think the reason they pulled it is because of the cooperation and cohesion between citizens and the argument we made to prioritize safety and noise issues.”

The next Marco Island City Council meeting is scheduled for 5:30 p.m., April 18.

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