MARCO ISLAND — In the span of less than 48 hours, City Council members in Marco Island voted to reopen the beaches, then the city overturned the decision.
This comes after a massive public backlash that forced City Manager Mike McNees to be contrite when he spoke with us outside city hall Wednesday.
“We apologize for this angst people have gone through over the last couple of days," said McNees.
McNees said Council’s decision to open the beaches to the public got an immediate backlash from people who live on the island.
“I know the council felt like they were doing something that would help take the pressure off. It turned out kind of going the other way," said McNees.
Council Chairman Erik Brechnitz said, after receiving hundreds of emails overnight, he now realizes a majority of people want the beaches closed for safety.
“We’d be stupid not to listen to the people who pay the taxes on the island, and so we did what was logical to do and we rescinded our decision," said Brechnitz.
But even with the public banned from going on the beach, that doesn’t stop private citizens. That’s why some City Council members think they should go even farther.
“I think... that we close all the beaches and all common area pools to everybody for at least 30 days, and then reassess, until we know that we’ve definitely, definitively, turned the corner on this thing," said Council Member Sam Young.
We asked Brechnitz if he would consider taking those more draconian steps.
“I’m not prepared to take that step just now, but we could," said Brechnitz.
The beaches are set to reopen on Marco Island on April 30th. That coincides with the expiration of the Governor’s “Safer at Home” order, but Brechnitz said, they could keep the beaches closed even longer if necessary.