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Seasonal Overcrowding at Caxambas Park on Marco Island Spurs Council Discussion

Caxambas Park Boat Launch
Samantha Roesler
The boat ramp at Caxambas Park is a popular destination for businesses and residents for easy access to Ten Thousand Islands. Due to the lack of parking and the increase of permits, overcrowding at the park has become a concern.

Overcrowding and parking regulations at Marco Island’s Caxambas Park dominated the city’s council meeting earlier this week, but no proposed solution or vote came of the conversation.

Caxambas sits at an ideal launching spot for local boating businesses, with direct access to the Ten Thousand Islands. Over the years, Marco Island’s population has increased and Caxambas Park is now overcrowded, especially in high season.

Collier County Commissioner Rick LoCastro, whose district includes Marco Island, spoke at the Sept. 20 meeting.

“It’s not a secret that (Caxambas) is bursting at the seams and we’ve done what we could every single year and once season is over it appears that everything has miraculously been fixed, but it’s only because there’s less people here,” said LoCastro.

“We’re not going to kick that can anymore.”

LoCastro emphasized that several meetings with Parks and Recreation about this issue have been conducted and there was brainstorming for ways to regulate traffic at the Caxambas boat ramp. LoCastro said one of the ideas was to close Caxambas to all business owners effective January 1.

“I think that would be irresponsible. That wouldn’t be the right approach. It’s a great knee jerk to think that would solve everything,” LoCastro said.

“I think we’re elected to burn a little more brain cells on the process.”

A different approach to the overcrowding issue would be to hire personnel that focuses on maintaining flow of traffic on the boat ramp and ensures everyone has a proper permit.

Ron Hagerman owns a local jet ski business and has been using Caxambas Park for his tours since 2007.

According to Hagerman, many parking overflow spots were taken away earlier this year with the construction of the new U.S. Coast Guard auxiliary building. The decrease in parking spots with the increase of boating business permits is causing frustration for business owners like Hagerman.

“When I started, there were 20 permits issued at the time. Now there’s like 170 permits issued,” Hagerman said. “I’d like to see the city work with the county to get a new site plan so we get more parking. Nobody wants to own up to it. It’s been poorly managed.”

Members of the council were in support of local businesses continuing to use Caxambas as their launch point and said they would work to come to a sensible solution.

“To go ahead today and start putting people out of business is totally unacceptable,” said Marco Island City Council Chairman Jared Grifoni. “I’m just speaking for myself and I would never support that.”

There are no plans for voting on the issue at this time. The next Marco Island City Council meeting is scheduled for Oct. 4.