Two beach access points to reopen on Marco Island

Reporter: Gina Tomlinson Writer: Jackie Winchester
Beach on Marco Island. Credit: WINK News

Marco Island city leaders on Monday made the call to reopen two beach access points, but one resident worries it will lead to big crowds.

Wayne Rose fears the island he calls home won’t be safe after the entrance to Marco Beach is reopened.

“I think it was a quick decision … I don’t think we’re doing the right thing.”

An entrance point and exit point will reopen April 13, just weeks after the beach was closed as part of the city’s response to COVID-19. In opening access to the beach, leaders stressed they expect beachgoers to exercise social distancing, and with keeping parking lots closed, they believe it will keep crowds at bay as only residents will have access.

“I think everyone in this community is at risk,” Rose said.

Collier County has reported 268 positive cases of the coronavirus, 222 of which are Florida residents. Six of the county’s cases are on Marco Island.

“When you get this many people on the beaches, you then have to have them patrol the beaches, the local police department and it puts too much of a burden on them,” Rose said.

With a much lower traffic count on the island, Councilman Jared Grifoni believes people who live on the island should get to enjoy the beach.

“We’re not talking about parking, we’re not talking about cars, we’re talking about individuals that can walk on the beach to engage in what the governor determined is essential activity, recreational activity,” Grifoni said.

Collier County Commissioner William McDaniel, Jr., said he couldn’t say whether the decision was a dangerous one or not, but “I believe that it is in the individual’s responsibility to be taken care of their own health.”

Rose hopes leaders will reconsider.

“We need to do the right thing and protect our residential people that are here right now,” Rose said.

Police will be patrolling to enforce social distancing, and council members said they will be watching.

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