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Marco Island Erupts Over Pickleball Court Expansion Drama

Marco Island Erupts Over Pickleball Court: The usually serene confines of Marco Island City Hall were anything but on Monday night as councilors faced an impassioned crowd of residents opposed to the proposed expansion of the pickleball courts. The controversial plan, which included converting tennis courts and demolishing the racquetball center to add eight new pickleball courts, was met with significant resistance.

Residents’ primary concern was the increased noise from the expanded facility. The plan also required several variances, including a reduction in required parking spaces from 66 to 62 and a relaxation of the Vehicle Use Area landscape requirements. These accusations, particularly the reduction of the buffer along the east perimeter from 15 feet to as little as 4 feet, sparked significant contention.

Councilor Blonna voiced the prevailing sentiment, stating that while the project may not increase density, its intensity would undoubtedly heighten, leading to more traffic and noise. “The intensity of this project, with more traffic and noise, outweighs the proposed benefits,” she remarked.

In response to the opposition, Councilor Brechnitz proposed an amendment to the motion, suggesting the elimination of one court from the plans. This adjustment aimed to address the residents’ concerns by negating the need for parking and vehicle use area variances. The amended plan would now feature a robust eight-foot-high chain link fence with a buffer and a 10-foot setback on three sides, aligning more closely with the original boundaries set in 1978 before the current land code development was enacted.

Councilor Palumbo offered a counterpoint, arguing that the requested setback reductions would have minimal impact and reminding residents that the public facility’s presence was a known factor when they purchased their properties. “The requested setbacks won’t make a significant difference, and residents were aware of the public facility next door,” he stated.

The conversation took a turn when Dan Smith, Director of Community Affairs for Marco Island, emphasized the public nature of the park, insisting that it should be accessible to all. This prompted a swift rebuttal from Councilor Brechnitz, who insisted that Marco Island residents, as the facility’s primary financiers, should receive membership preference. “The citizens of Marco Island are paying for this facility, so they should get preference,” Brechnitz argued.

Councilor Irwin added another layer to the debate, noting that while noise buffers might address residents’ concerns, they could inadvertently cut ventilation on the courts, potentially impacting player experience.

Marco Island Erupts Over Pickleball Court (1)

Ultimately, the amended motion was brought to a vote, with Council Chair Grifoni calling for the decision. The motion passed with a 6-1 vote, Councilor Blonna being the sole dissenter. The approved plan reflects a delicate balance, striving to address residents’ concerns while still moving forward with the court expansion, albeit on a slightly reduced scale.

The meeting underscored the complexity of urban planning and the challenges of balancing community needs with public amenities. As the project moves forward, Marco Island’s city council will undoubtedly continue to navigate the intricate dynamics of development, resident satisfaction, and public access.

News in Brief : Marco Island Erupts Over Pickleball Court

Marco Island residents expressed strong opposition to a plan to expand pickleball courts due to noise concerns. The plan included converting tennis courts and reducing parking and buffer requirements. Councilors adjusted the plan by removing one court and maintaining certain setbacks to address these concerns. Councilor Brechnitz argued that residents should get membership preference as they fund the facility. The amended motion was approved with a 6-1 vote.

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