This month in Collier County government news: Commissioners approve Rivergrass Village, nix Clam Pass parking garage; Conservation Collier heads to November ballot. For these stories and more Collier County government news, read on.
Growth & Development
Rivergrass Village — In what may be one of the most important votes for the future of growth in Collier County, commissioners voted 3-2 to approve a 1,000-acre village along Oil Well Road, east of Golden Gate Estates after nearly six hours of presentations, public comments and discussions. Up to 2,500 mostly single-family homes could be part of Rivergrass Village, along with a golf course and village center. Commissioners Burt Saunders and Penny Taylor cast the minority votes.
- Collier Commission votes 3-2 to approve Rivergrass Village east of Golden Gate Estates. Naples Daily News, 1/28/20
- Board of County Commissioners 1/28/20 meeting materials
- This proposed housing community near Golden Gate Estates includes environment restoration, but others disagree. Naples Daily News, 1/27/20
- Collier commissioners discuss rural growth plan as decision on Rivergrass Village looms. Naples Daily News, 1/21/20
- Planning commission rejects plan for 1,000-acre village in rural Collier. Naples Daily News, 11/12/19
Conservation Collier is a land preservation program that was funded with a quarter-mill property tax from 2003 to 2013. Since inception, the program acquired 20 properties totaling 4,300 acres for about $106 million, and the trust fund currently has about $30 million. This month, in a move supported by environmental organizations, commissioners voted 4-1 to let voters consider reinstating the tax. Commissioner Bill McDaniel cast the minority vote.
- Voters to decide in November whether to bring back tax for Conservation Collier. Naples Daily News, 1/29/20
Health, Safety & Quality of Life
Commissioners decided not to pursue a proposed parking garage at Clam Pass Park that was intended, in part, to help take pressure off other beaches in the county and within the city of Naples. The plan had drawn the ire of neighbors and concern from some environmentalists.
- Collier County nixes proposed parking garage at Clam Pass. Naples Daily News, 1/14/20
Collier County residents enjoy a broad — if not always coordinated — spectrum of arts opportunities that include programs for seniors, local theater and music, and children’s classes. Now:
- First draft for Collier County arts plan gets a hearing. Naples Daily News, 1/26/20; Arts & Culture Strategic Plan
County-Owned Golf Course Property
Last year, Collier County acquired a 167-acre golf course in Golden Gate, with its future use to be determined. This month, commissioners considered two proposed golf entertainment options for the property. Despite some concerns about noise and lighting impacts on neighbors, a split commission voted to move forward with Dallas-based ClubCorp’s proposal for a BigShots Golf 200-yard driving range where shots can be tracked and scored using technology. Commissioners Donna Fiala and Penny Taylor cast the minority votes.
- Proposal to bring high-tech driving range, 12-hole golf course to Golden Gate moves forward. Naples Daily News, 1/14/20
Separately, it was reported that the Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation and the Moorings Park Foundation may offer millions of dollars toward a public-private partnership to put hundreds of rental units on part of the property if the right plan comes along.
- Brent Batten: Affordable housing on Golden Gate golf course gets big boost. Naples Daily News, 1/9/20
On December 10, 2019, the Board of County Commissioners appointed a Complete Count Coordinator to increase awareness and participation in the 2020 Census. The Coordinator will coordinate County staff, resources, facilities, and programs to promote awareness to Collier County residents, interest groups, and municipalities to ensure an accurate count. To offer assistance or for more information, contact Maria Pizarro, Community Relations Specialist, 239-252-8113 or Maria.Pizarro@CollierCountyfl.gov.
Opportunities to Learn
- 2/4/20 – District 1 Town Hall Meeting – Hosted by Commissioner Donna Fiala
- 2/7/20 – How to Use Services Offered by the Collier Clerk – Hosted by Collier Clerk of the Circuit Court & Comptroller Crystal Kinzel
- 2/19/20 – Collier County Emergency Operations Center Tour — Hosted by Collier County Commissioner Andy Solis
- 2/20/20 – Water Quality 2020 Town Hall Meeting – Hosted by Collier County Commissioner Penny Taylor
- 2/27/20 – Conservation Collier – An Informational Forum – Hosted by the League of Women Voters of Collier County Environmental Affairs Committee
City of Naples
The City of Naples will hold its 2020 general elections for mayor and three members of City Council on March 17.
- City of Naples 2020 Elections – Key Dates and Important Links
- League of Women Voters of Collier County to host Mayoral and City Council candidate forums on February 11.
In its FY 2018-2019 Annual Report, the City of Naples highlighted several accomplishments. They include:
- the opening of the Patty and Jay Baker Park and Phase 1 (5th Avenue South to Central Avenue) of the 8th Street Corridor Improvement Project,
- the dedication of the Fire Administration / Fire Station No. 1,
- receipt of a $1.2 million appropriation from the State of Florida to offset residents’ assessment costs for the Gulf Acres/Rosemary Heights Joint Sanitary Sewer and Stormwater Project, and
- completion of 23 new reefs and three chevron-shaped reef ball structures to provide fish and oyster habitat, as well as wave attenuation.
A Naples developer claims he’s been treated unfairly, through city council votes, building department decisions and code enforcement actions that have stymied his projects and resulted in hefty fines.
- Naples developer Harry Zea faces roadblocks in completing his projects; blames city, others. Naples Daily News, 1/30/20
City of Marco Island
The state’s Criminal Justice Standards and Training Commission handed down a light punishment and allowed Marco Island’ disgraced former police officer Neil Giansanti to keep his certification after being involved in a sex on duty scandal. Now the Marco Island City Council is making sure the Commission and Gov. Ron DeSantis know how it feels about the handling of the case.
- Marco Island City Council appalled by commission’s weak action against disgraced former officer. Naples Daily News, 1/8/20
Two members of the public wanted to discuss revelations regarding possible ethical violations by a member of City Council at a recent meeting, but were denied a hearing.
- Marco councilor’s official response to election complaint contradicts public statement. Naples Daily News, 1/10/20
- Ethics Commission revelation irks citizens. Coastal Breeze News, 1/30/20
At a recent City Council meeting, Councilman Larry Honig reviewed the five projects on which Council intends to spend the City’s share of the receipts from the one-cent increase in the Collier County sales tax
- Benefits of the 1% sales tax increase detailed. Coastal Breeze News, 1/16/20
In other news:
- Marco to build and repair more than $1.5M worth of sidewalks. Marco Eagle via Naples Daily News, 1/16/20
- Marco Island police officer John Derrig fired for second time following internal investigation. winknews.com, 1/17/20
- Collier to install lightning warning system at Marco beaches. Marco Eagle, 1/21/20
- Marco will pay homeowners $250 to dig starter owl burrows. Marco Eagle via Naples Daily News, 1/22/20
- Former Marco police officer Kevin Hennings, previously fired for sex on duty, under investigation after traffic stop. Naples Daily News, 1/23/20
Collier County Public Schools
Statewide high school graduation rates were announced this month. Collier County schools’ graduation rate was 91.9% for the second year in a row. Last year, it climbed 3.7 percentage points.
- SWFL graduation rates are in: Lee makes slight gains, Collier is static. Naples Daily News, 1/9/20
- CCPS 2019 High School Graduation Rate Assessment Briefing. colliersschools.com, 1/9/20
- Florida’s High School Cohort 2018-19 Graduation Rate. Florida Department of Education, 12/20
Golden Gate Elementary School students participate in the Leader in Me whole-school transformation model based on Stephen Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. That’s just one of the reasons the school recently earned national recognition.
- Golden Gate Elementary School wins national award for excellence and innovation in the field of STEM education. District Administration, 1/17/20
In other news:
- Two new elementary schools planned for Golden Gate. Naples Daily News, 1/15/20
- Opinion: STEAM Expo propels student achievement. By Kamela Patton, Superintendent, Collier County Public Schools via Naples Daily News, 1/28/20
Local news reported in this post is by Brent Batten, Rachel Fradette, Laura Layden, Harriet Howard Heithaus, Ledyard King, Omar Rodriguez Ortiz, Devan Patel and Patrick Riley (Naples Daily News/News-Press/Marco Eagle) and by Steve “Stef” Stefanides (Coastal Breeze News)
Collier Clerk Crystal Kinzel
- Clerk launches free service that alerts property owners of potential fraud. Clerk Newsletter, 01/2020
- Collier Clerk’s Internal Audit Division is now an Inspector General Office. Clerk Newsletter, 01/2020
Collier Supervisor of Elections Jennifer Edwards
- Collier County Supervisor of Elections Office announces precinct and polling location changes. Press Release, 12/30/19
Our State Legislators
Parts of Collier County are represented in the Florida House of Representatives by Rep. Byron Donalds (District 80), Rep. Bob Rommel (District 106), and Rep. Ana Maria Rodriguez (District 105). All of Collier County is represented in the Florida Senate by Sen. Kathleen Passidomo.
- Byron Donalds announces bid for Francis Rooney’s congressional seat. Florida Politics, 1/6/20
- Kathleen Passidomo optimistic members will work toward one another’s priorities in Session. Florida Politics, 1/13/20
- Sen. Passidomo supports state preemption on local government regulation of vacation rentals. Passidomo Legislative Update Newsletter, 1/17/20
- State Rep. Byron Donalds – Newsletter – January 2020
- State Rep. Bob Rommel – Newsletters
- State Sen. Kathleen Passidomo – Newsletters
Our U.S. Congressmen
Parts of Collier County are represented in the U.S. Congress of Rep. Francis Rooney (District 19) and Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (District 25).
- Rooney explains his War Powers vote. The Paradise Progressive, 1/10/20
- Q&A with Francis Rooney: Retirement, polarized Congress, term limits. Naples Daily News, 1/11/20
- Francis Rooney goes to bat for bill protecting marine sanctuaries from chemicals. Florida Daily, 1/15/20
- Republican Rep. Rooney says he ‘definitely would’ advise GOP senators to call Bolton to testify in Trump’s impeachment trial. Newsweek.com, 1/20/20
That’s it for January’s Collier County Government News. Have a great February!