Local news In Review – March+ 2019

The biggest news in this “March” update happened on April 2 when Ray Christman won the Naples City Council Special Election. The Naples Daily News editorialized that “the facts of his win — a majority total in a four-person election; prevailing over a runner-up with citywide name recognition and two other candidates with strengths of their own; a higher-than-expected turnout and a rejection of the endorsements of the council majority — indicate the status quo does not sit well with residents.” I’ll say! 
In other news: growth, development and redevelopment decisions continued to dominate County Commission meetings; the County’s sales tax oversight committee had its first meetings and votes were not unanimous; crackdowns on vacation rentals are coming soon; the beautiful new Baker Park is open for business; and more. Read on!

Board of County Commissioners

Reporting and insight by Tim Aten, Brent Batten, Liz Freeman, Laura Layden and Patrick Riley – Naples Daily News; NBC-2 News; WINK News
Next elections: August 2020 Primary. Find your commission district HERE.

Growth, development, and redevelopment

  • Collier officials present plans to spur Golden Gate redevelopment. Commissioner Burt Saunders, whose district includes Golden Gate, favors aspects of the proposal, but some residents worry it may do more harm than good. Naples Daily News, 4/3/19
    • Related: Plan for labs, lofts, arts and shops along Bayshore in East Naples draws interest, skepticism. Naples Daily News, 2/12/19
  • Commissioners approve $400,000 land purchase for Vanderbilt Beach Road extension. Commissioner Bill McDaniel said the $100 million project is essential for the demands of the growing Golden Gate Estates community. NBC2 News, 3/12/19
  • An uncertain future for the Golden Gates Golf Course. While there is nothing set in stone, commissioners believe the location is a good site for development. WINK News, 3/11/19
    • Related: Brent Batten: Putting the public in the idea of a public golf course. Naples Daily News, 3/19/19
  • Work begins at long-stalled Davis Crossing building. The project on the southwest corner of Davis and Collier boulevards, that still needs final permits, is targeted to be ready for tenant build-out by the end of the year. Naples Daily News, 3/11/19
  • East Naples Triangle site targeted for redevelopment is back on the market — again. The buyer had a change of heart due to a disagreement with the County’s planning and zoning officials over how many hotel rooms can be built on the roughly 2-acre site. Naples Daily News, 3/10/19
  • Brent Batten: For growth to east, Collier County set to borrow $77 million for water plants. Two wastewater treatment plants, a 7.5-million-gallon tank potable water storage tank and another tank for irrigation water are just a precursor of things to come. Naples Daily News, 3/9/19
  • As Collier population increases, county leaders grapple with long-range planning for growth. In a recent workshop, they focused on a variety of growth-related questions, from what type of housing younger residents are seeking to how to push developers to build communities in line with the county’s vision. Naples Daily News, 3/5/19
  • From town to village: Collier Enterprises plans 1,000-acre Rivergrass Village development in eastern Collier. Revised plans by Collier Enterprises could include up to 2,500 homes, golf course. Naples Daily News, 3/1/19
    • Related: Editorial: Scaled-back plans welcome, but private property rights can’t be ignored. Naples Daily News, 3/7/19

Local Option Sales Tax

  • Collier sales tax advisory board narrowly approves Big Corkscrew Island Regional Park. Those who opposed spending on the project took a narrow view of the intent of voters, which County Attorney Jeffrey Klatzkow said could jeopardize other projects as well. Naples Daily News, 4/3/19
  • Collier road projects, animal shelter improvements move forward. A citizen oversight committee signed off on the projects and continued another to their next meeting on April 3. Patrick Riley, Naples Daily News, 3/6/19

Other County news

  • Collier County explores making its beaches wider, taller. Beach renourishment projects are funded through the county’s tourist tax, a 5 percent levy on short-term rentals of six months or less and hotel stays. Naples Daily News, 4/1/19
  • Collier County to crack down on vacation rentals. Commissioners voted 4-1 to direct county staff to enforce existing rules that ban owners from renting their homes for less than six months in most residential areas outside city limits. Naples Daily News, 3/27/19 
    • Related: County’s decision to crack down on vacation rentals stirs opposition. Naples Daily News, 3/30/19
  • Collier County commission votes 3-2 not to abolish controversial PACE financing program despite consumer protection worries. Commissioners Donna Fiala and Penny Taylor voted no. Naples Daily News, 3/26/10

Naples City Council
Reporting and insight by Brent Batten and Lisa Conley – Naples Daily News
Next elections: February 2020; City boundary map here.
  • Naples Bay artificial oyster reef project gets underway. The goal is to revive the oyster population, which plays an essential role in improving water quality. Naples Daily News, 4/5/19
  • Naples to spend its $25.8 million share of county sales tax money on hurricane preparedness, safety improvements. While Council members unanimously supported some of the 12 proposed projects, they questioned the necessity and cost of others. Naples Daily News, 4/3/19
  • Ray Christman wins Naples City Council special election. With 50.8 percent of the vote in a four-way race, he will be sworn in during a City Council meeting on April 17. Naples Daily News, 4/2/19
    • Related: Editorial: Christman’s City Council win signals voters aren’t satisfied with status quo. Naples Daily News, 4/4/19
  • Naples City Council to reinstate fertilizer blackout period. The majority of Councilors directed staff to reinstate a rainy season blackout period and ban the use of phosphorous year-round unless a certified soil test shows a deficiency. Naples Daily News, 3/18/19
  • Naples opens part of Baker Park along Gordon River after years of planning and construction. The project started taking shape in May 2013 when the City Council approved the purchase of about 7 acres near land that once was the city’s landfill and 5 acres of mangrove forest along the Gordon River. Naples Daily News, 3/15/19
    • Related: Everything you need to know about Baker Park — including its location. Naples Daily News, 4/1/19
  • Naples Beach Hotel & Golf Club redevelopment plan approved by planning board. Since the proposal first appeared before the board, the developer has made some changes to address expressed concerns. Naples Daily News, 3/13/19
Marco Island City Council
Reporting by Devan Patel – Naples Daily News / Marco Eagle
Next elections: November 2020
  • Marco city manager search down to five candidates. The goal is to have the new manager in place by August. Marco Eagle via Naples Daily News, 4/3/19
  • Recruitment process begins for next Marco Island police chief. The Florida Police Chiefs Association STARS Program will assist in the search. Marco Eagle via Naples Daily News, 4/1/19
  • Marco City Council approves Veterans’ Community Park master plan. Community input and outreach determined that the top-4 infrastructure improvements sought by the community were restrooms, a band shell, increased shade and landscaping. Marco Eagle, 3/22/19
  • Florida DOT to fix lighting for Marco Island. The Jolley Bridge, the “washboard road” and new stretch of road on US 41E from 951 to Greenway Road will see improvements. DonnasTidbits, 3/18/19
Collier County School Board
Reporting by Kristine Gill – Florida Weekly
Next elections: August 2020
  • Collier Schools gear up to hire hundreds of new teachers…again. By the beginning of next school year, the District anticipates having to fill 375 open teaching positions as the result of growth and attrition. Naples Florida Weekly, 3/14/19
Fire Districts
Reporting by Jake Allen – Naples Daily News
Next elections: August 2020. Find your fire district HERE.
  • Greater Naples Fire Rescue District received new firefighting apparatus with financial assistance of the Golden Gate Land Trust. The state-of-the-art vehicle will be housed at Fire Station 71 located at 100 13th Street SW replacing the station’s previous vehicle decommissioned last year after more than 20 years of service. Chief Schuldt’s Weekly Email, 4/3/19
  • North Collier Fire Control and Rescue District selects Eloy Ricardo as new fire chief. Chief Jamie Cunningham informed commissioners of his retirement plans last year. Naples Daily News, 3/20/19
  • Immokalee fire officials blame budget issues for delayed response to fatal chainsaw accident. The firefighters needed a ladder truck to rescue the worker, but the district had sold its only one last year. Naples Daily News, 3/7/19
That’s it for March’s local news. Enjoy your April — be healthy and happy.