Local News in Review – June 2019

Members of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America and the Collier County Education Association gather outside of a county commission meeting. (Photo: Emma Dill, Naples Daily News)
  • Top stories: Collier County agrees to continue funding school safety officers for 2019-20 budget year. Public response to commissioners’ previous decision to fund just half the cost led to the unanimous reversal. Full Story
  • Collier County taxable value to increase for eighth straight year. Keeping the tax rate steady in fiscal 2020 is projected to result in $17.8 million in additional property tax revenue to the general fund. Full Story
  • Collier Schools general counsel calls on Mason Classical Academy board members Kelly Lichter and Laura Miller and Principal David Hull to resign. The ultimatum came after a yearlong investigation into allegations of mismanagement. Full Story

Board of County Commissioners

Reporting by Emma Dill, Liz Freeman, Laura Layden, Patrick Riley (Naples Daily News); Tyler Treadway (TCPalm)

Growth, development, redevelopment

Phase 1 of the East Naples Community Park master plan. (Photo: Collier County Parks
and Recreation Department)
  • More pickleball courts, stadium coming to East Naples Community Park. County commissioners approved a $23.4 million two-phase master plan, with funding likely to come from an array of county sources. Full Story
  • Redevelopment project on East Naples triangle site to proceed after Commissioners overturn staff’s denial. A planned luxury high-rise condo-hotel at the corner of U.S. 41 and Davis Boulevard has been on hold since 2018. Full Story
  • Deal OK’d for commercial hub on Golden Gate Estates parcel. Residents preferred the chosen plan because it improves two locations, the Randall Curve property and the intersection of Wilson and Golden Gate boulevards. Full Story
  • Commission approves 400-unit mixed-use development for North Naples site. Commissioners also laid the groundwork for construction of an overpass at the Immokalee Road and Collier Boulevard intersection, likely to be needed by 2035. Full Story
  • Collier looks to hire more building inspectors to tackle increased demand. Commissioners unanimously approved creating 10 full-time positions within the county’s growth management department and purchasing 15 more vehicles — 10 for the new inspectors and five to address a current shortage. Full Story

Environment

Photo: South Florida
Water Management District
  • South Florida Water Management District speeding up construction of EAA reservoir. The 6,500-acre man-made marsh to be built by the district was scheduled to be completed in 2024 but could be ready to start cleaning water bound for Everglades National Park much sooner. Full Story
  • New SFWMD webpage informs public on latest efforts to restore the Everglades and protect Florida’s environment. Twenty-nine critical projects, including restoration of Collier County’s Picayune Strand, are highlighted. More here
  • Collier looks to beef up stormwater budget. Given the county’s current resources, it will take nearly 60 years for all the swales to be cleaned, according to a county website that provided information on the proposed (and rejected) stormwater fee. Full Story
  • Collier moves ahead with stricter rules on fertilizers, stops short of blackout period. The move comes after other municipalities in the county have gone their own way on how to regulate fertilizers. Full Story

Business 

  • Unemployment remains low in Southwest Florida. Collier County’s jobless rate is just 2.8%. Full Story
  • Collier County’s three government-run airports increase economic impact since 2014. The county’s airports are a crucial part of the growth of local areas, said Commissioner Bill McDaniel, whose district includes the Immokalee Regional Airport and Everglades Airpark. Full Story

Other County News

  • Collier to buy Golden Gate golf course for $29.1 million. The County will maintain the property but what it will be used for is not yet clear. Full Story
  • Commissioners vote to keep ban on residential PACE (Property Assessment Clean Energy) program. The vote was 3-2, following continuing reports of abuse by unscrupulous contractors. Full Story
  • County to develop vacation rental ordinance. Commissioners directed county staff to establish a registration process for people who rent their properties to vacationers, develop ways to enforce existing codes, and require a local contact person for rentals. Full Story
  • Department of Health – Collier awarded coveted Governor’s Sterling Award. As the county’s only special needs shelter, DOH-C’s 120 employees cared for over 700 people with special medical needs around-the-clock after Hurricane Irma. Full Story
  • Collier Commission boosts funding for David Lawrence Center to keep pace with demand. It approved the Center’s request for a $290,000 year-over-year increase, rejecting county staff’s proposed $32,000. Full Story
  • SWFL senior centers not in compliance with post-Irma generator law. A state database shows 27 of 44 assisted living facilities and nursing homes in Collier County have completed installation of generators as required, according to the state Agency for Health Care Administration. Full Story
  • Vegetable garden law does not apply to Naples Park community garden, county officials say. The garden was planted on a lot that did not have a home on it, so local regulation of garden-related matters is still allowed. Full Story
  • More bus shelters to arrive soon. Eleven shelters will be installed over the 1-1/2 years, funded by a $286,000 Federal Highway Administration grant. Full Story
  • Andy Solis’ journey from young Naples lawyer to county commissioner. How a Florida Supreme Court justice’s suggestion brought Solis to Naples and a thriving career as a lawyer and Collier County commissioner. Full Story

Naples City Council

Reporting by Lisa Conley (Naples Daily News)

Corey Adamski, fire marshal with the Naples Fire-Rescue Department, leads a meeting about the city’s hurricane preparedness. (Photo: Alex Driehaus/Naples Daily News USA TODAY NETWORK – FLORIDA)
  • City of Naples prepares for next big hurricane with mock drill. The new $9.5 million fire station and emergency operations center was built to weather a Category 5 storm. Full Story
  • Editorial: Naples far removed from Lake O, but not from potential water quality disaster. We encourage the City Council to maintain its interest in water quality throughout the budget process, which could mean increasing the stormwater fee or adding assessments in areas served by a specific lake. Full Story

Marco Island City Council

Reporting by Devan Patel, Omar Rodriguez Ortiz

Tracy L. Frazzano is the new Marco Island Police Chief.
(Photo: Omar Rodríguez Ortiz)
  • Marco Island names first woman to lead its Police Department. Tracy Frazzano beat out 80 other candidates after the city officially listed the position more than three months ago. Full Story
  • Marco Island Fire Department asks Sheriff’s Office to investigate sexual misconduct claims. The request came after an article by the Naples Daily News revealed details of a case involving a now-former firefighter sending lewd photos to a minor as well as possible involvement by others at the department. Full Story
  • FEMA awards Marco Island $1.5 million for a generator. To be sited at the Water Treatment Facility, it will support potable water treatment, water pressure and fire suppression supply in the event of an outage. Full Story
  • Marco Island City Council greenlights medical marijuana dispensaries. The resolution passed 5-2, despite with nay votes by Chairperson Erik Brechnitz and councilor Howard Reed. Full Story

Collier County School Board

Reporting by Emma Dill, Rachel Fradette

  • Scores are in: a look at how Collier schools performed on state tests. As a school district, Collier scores met or surpassed Florida’s state average score in 20 out of 21 tested areas, including English scores. Math scores hit well above Florida’s average, except for a drop in eighth grade from 43% to 36%. Full Story; Full Results
  • Mason Classical Academy principal resigns amid school district report. David Hull was accused of violating state and federal laws, the Code of Professional Conduct and the charter school’s own policy; he denied any wrong-doing. Full Story
  • Vaping ‘epidemic’ in Collier schools. An uptick in tobacco and drug offenses has the District and the Collier sheriff’s office working to warn students of the dangers of vaping. Full Story
  • District lauds update, vision for new high school in North Naples. It will include a media center, a wellness center in lieu of a gymnasium, a 1,350-seat auditorium, sports fields, 46 classrooms and a JROTC obstacle course. Full Story

Clerk of Circuit Court & Comptroller

  • Amendment 4 aftermath: Collier felons owe $94 million in fines. A new Florida law requires completion of “all terms” of their sentence, including paying any fines, fees, restitution, or court costs associated with their conviction, before they may have their voting rights restored. Full Story
  • Clerk partners with The Shelter for Abused Women & Children to help domestic violence victims. Advocates from The Shelter are available at the Clerk’s main office to assist in filing protective injunctions (restraining orders), counseling, and education. Full Story

Sheriff

Reporting by Jake Allen (Naples Daily News)

Crime was down 3.5 percent in Collier County in 2018 thanks, in part, to events like Coffee With A Cop where deputies share safety tips with the public. (Photo: Cpl Efrain Hernandez/CCSO)
  • Population increased while the crime rate decreased in both Collier and Lee counties in 2018. The two counties reflected the crime rate overall in Florida, which fell by 9.0 percent, according to the 2018 Annual Uniform Crime Report from the FDLE, marking the 48th consecutive year Florida has marked a drop in its crime rate. Full Story
  • Sheriff’s Office seizes nearly $180,000 worth of drugs. Working in conjunction with the United States Postal Investigative Services, the Office seized 54.5 pounds of marijuana, 93 grams of marijuana wax and 8.5 ounces of crack cocaine. Full Story

Newsletters and Upcoming Events

These newsletters and upcoming events may be of interest.

Newsletters

If you are aware of newsletters published by other local elected officials or government offices that I can link to in future monthly reviews, please let me know.

Events

  • “Florida’s 2019 Legislative Session: What Voters Should Know” – Presented by Sandy Parker; advance registration with Renaissance Academy required. Call 239-434-4737 or 239-745-4600. 
    • Monday, July 15, 1:00pm – 2:30pm at Vi at Bentley Village, 850 Retreat Dr, Naples FL 34110
    • Monday, Jul 22, 10:00am – 11:30am – Moorings Park Center for Healthy Living, 132 Moorings Park Dr, Naples FL 34105
  • “The Dollars and $ense of Growth”– July 9 & 10, sponsored by Collier Growth Management Department; details HERE
  • Save Our Water Summit– with Secretary of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection Noah Valenstein, more – Aug. 21; details HERE

And that’s it for June’s local government news.

News happens daily! Stay current with Sparker’s Soapbox on Facebook at fb.me/sparkers.soapbox or follow me on Twitter @SparkersSoapbox. Have a great July! 

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