City Council: Long-time city clerk recognized ahead of retirement

Frustrations with moped and electric bikes on sideways brought before body

In a rather quick City Council meeting on Monday night, the body discussed their plans to lease out a space in city hall to the Collier County Board of County Commissioners, followed by public comment with a couple concerns about electric vehicles being used for sidewalk tours.

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The meeting started with acknowledgment of a long-time employee of Marco Island as she announced retirement.

Chairman Erik Brechnitz recognized Marco Island City Clerk Laura Litzan, who is getting ready to retire in April. Litzan was the second employee hired by the city in 1998 and was promoted to city clerk in 2002.

“Laura has been a fixture around here for years, unable to do almost anything without her guidance and her institutional knowledge of what’s going on is invaluable,” Brechnitz said.

In Litzan’s time with the city, she coordinated over 480 council agendas, led 12 council elections, and even served as a member of the city’s emergency response team for hurricanes Wilma and Irma.

“It’s been a privilege, thank you all and thank you for our short agenda today, really appreciate it,” Litzan said jokingly.

Up next on the short agenda list was an item Chairman Brechnitz took off the consent agenda, an authorization of the Marco Island City Manager to execute a lease agreement to the Collier County Board of County Commissioners for a space within City Hall. This would provide a space for the clerk of courts services, supervisor of elections services and a Collier County District 1 satellite office.

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The lease is for a five-year term; however, it can be terminated with or without cause with at least a 30 day notice, making it more a monthly lease. Rent for the space will be $4,300 a month. “$4,300 is kind of a small amount for Marco Island,” Brechnitz said. “Would it be good will to just go to the county, the clerk of the courts and the supervisor of elections and tell them we have space for them, and they can use it whenever they want and we’re not going to charge them anything?”

As the question was geared toward City Manager Mike McNees, he expressed that it’s better to charge something and deal with leases than just not charge anything.

“I think it’s we need to charge him something recognizing the value, and the point is to recover the operating expenses as part of the electric bill, the water bill and those sorts of things,” McNees said. “But I would argue absolutely this is saying to them, you can have it for free just help pay the light bill.”

Although the city won’t be making a substantial amount of money through this deal, Marco residents will reap benefits from giving Collier County Board of Commissioners a spot nearby.

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“The point being this allows them to provide services directly to Marco Island residents they don’t currently have and so in that way, in the spirit of partnership, it’s a good it’s a good thing for us to do,” McNees said.

Motorized vehicles on sidewalks was a topic of concern during public comment. Marco Island resident Liz Fitch and expressed frustrations with moped and electric bike tours being conducted throughout the community.

“There’s a gentleman that comes to the island on a daily basis. Parks at the Holiday Inn runs tours up and down bald eagle upwards of 16 people on either Segways, mopeds, traits, etc.,” Fich said. “I can’t find him listed in anything.”

According to Fich, the tour guides are not respectful of others on the sidewalks.

“I am on the sidewalk every morning, I was on the sidewalk one morning on Smokehouse Bay Bridge and the gentleman was coming on the trike tour, there were four of us walking and we all respect everyone else and we moved single file to the side,” Fich said. “He told us move out of the way.”

Greg Vilk, another Marco Island resident, also voiced that motorized vehicles on sidewalks bring to liability threat to property owners.

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“My understanding is, as a property owner, I carry a liability if somebody gets injured on the sidewalks on the entire corner of my property,” Vilk said. “If there’s an accident with those motorized scooters, just a person on a bike, or a person walking or a car not seeing them, whatever it may be. They’re going to claim everybody, the city, the vehicle, the persons involved, the property owner.”

During the council communication part of the agenda, Councilor Rich Blanna spoke up about this issue.

“I would really like us to consider having an ordinance that bans anything with a motor from the sidewalk,” Blanna said. “Personally, I think anything with a motor should be in the street, whether it’s in a bike lane, or in the street. I think that would make it really simple – if it’s got a motor, it’s in the street., period.”

The next Marco Island City Council meeting is scheduled for 5:30 p.m., April 4.

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