Local news In Review – April 2019

April’s news includes several examples of community members affecting elected officials’ decision-making, which reminded me: those officials and our governing bodies publish newsletters, alerts and press releases to let us know what’s happening before decisions are made so that we, too, can weigh in. At the end of this post, I list some you might want to signup for. 
Top stories: community members turned out to oppose several projects being considered by the County Commission or Planning Board; after months of discussion and community input, the Naples City Council approved the Naples Beach Hotel redevelopment plan; the Marco Island City Council approved an ordinance requiring a supermajority vote for major capital expenses; and the North Collier Fire Control and Rescue District Commissioners named a new fire chief. For these and other stories about our local government, read on.

Board of County Commissioners

Reporting and insight by Brent Batten, Laura Layden and Patrick Riley – Naples Daily News
Next elections: August 2020 Primary. Find your commission district HERE.

Growth, development, and redevelopment

  • Collier commissioners approve Whippoorwill Lane extension. In response to resident concerns about traffic, noise and safety, the project will include a new traffic signal at Livingston Road and Marbella Lakes Drive, roundabouts, raised medians, and narrower lanes to help slow traffic along the roads. Naples Daily News, 04/09/19
  • Related: Editorial: Collier road network needs long-planned Whippoorwill-Marbella link. Naples Daily News, 4/11/19
  • Brent Batten: Too much success on Bayshore? Commissioner Donna Fiala was taken aback when fellow commissioner Burt Saunders suggested that the county put an early expiration date on the Bayshore Gateway Triangle Community Redevelopment Agency. Naples Daily News, 4/13/19
  • Planning Commission delays vote on proposed mixed-use project. Community members filled commission chambers to express concerns about the project at Immokalee Road and Collier Boulevard. Naples Daily News, 4/18/19
  • Proposed garage at Clam Pass Park raises concerns. County staff plans to meet with nearby neighborhoods and communities before returning to the County Commission for direction. Naples Daily News, 4/21/19
  • Commissioners delay decision on offers for 47-acre Golden Gate Estates property. County staff had recommended they accept the offer of the highest bidder to create “a quality, vibrant mixed-use development to serve the needs of the rapidly growing eastern Collier County population.” Naples Daily News, 4/23/19
  • Commissioners want new leadership for Collier County’s business accelerators. Economic Incubators Inc., the nonprofit tasked with operating the Naples and Immokalee accelerators, will lose control of the county accelerator program following longstanding questions about how the organization has spent its money, managed the program and delivered results. Naples Daily News, 4/29/19

Other County news

  • Commissioners signal desire to reconsider short-term vacation rentals vote. After pushback from the industry, they voted 3-2 to bring the matter back at their next meeting. Naples Daily News, 04/09/19
  • County may buy North Naples fire station to keep EMS there. Commissioner Saunders said he considers EMS one of the most important services the county provides and isn’t “particularly concerned about the capital cost.” Naples Daily News, 4/11/19
  • Commissioners try to lure mystery company, 80 new jobs. The company, identified as “Project Peak,” could receive up to $320,000 from the state and $80,000 from the county for an “expansion of the corporate headquarters and medical device manufacturing project.” Naples Daily News, 4/24/19

Naples City Council

Reporting and insight by Brent Batten and Lisa Conley – Naples Daily News
Next elections: February 2020; City boundary map here.

  • Planning board approves new luxury movie theater at Coastland Center. If City Council approves it at its May 1 meeting, demolition is to begin by the end of May with a tentative opening of late 2020. Naples Daily News, 4/10/19
  • Residents say Naples’ septic tank replacement project has been poorly managed, extremely disruptive. The project is a joint venture with the city in charge of the utilities portion and the county responsible for the stormwater portion of the project. Naples Daily News, 4/14/19
  • Naples Beach Hotel & Golf Club redevelopment plan approved by City Council. The vote was unanimous, although councilors Ray Christman and Terry Hutchison separately opposed the exclusion of a third party from the “negative easement” that will protect the golf course as green space. Naples Daily News, 4/17/19
  • Bill Barnett seeks fifth term as Naples mayor. Barnett, 78, has served as either a council member or mayor on and off since 1984 when he was first elected to the City Council. Naples Daily News, 4/18/19

Marco Island City Council

Reporting by Devan Patel – Naples Daily News / Marco Eagle
Next elections: November 2020

  • Marco council approves ordinance requiring supermajority vote for major capital expenses. By a 4-3 vote, approval will be more difficult for capital purchases that are greater than 10 percent of the average of the last four years of general fund revenues. Marco Eagle, 4/23/19
  • City council sets meeting to interview Marco Island city manager candidates. They will host the five finalists from May 5-7 and hold a special meeting on the final day for a public interview session. Marco Eagle, 4/23/19

Meanwhile, turmoil continued as interim City Manager David Harden dealt with the departure of Police Chief Al Schettino:

  • MIPD, police supporters organize to keep chief. Emails from police personnel and comments from supporters of the department show events at the City Council meeting, which included armed officers in uniform entering council chambers to support the chief, were orchestrated to undermine the authority of the city manager. Marco Eagle, 4/4/19
  • EEOC complaint details Marco police discrimination, information leaks, potential perjury. The complaint not only alleges gender discrimination but states that Chief Schettino leaked information about a battery investigation into the former city manager and along with a former councilman, sought his ouster. Marco Eagle, 4/12/19
  • Marco city manager says police chief decision stands. Harden’s decision to seek new leadership for the department appears unwavering despite overwhelming support for the embattled chief. Marco Eagle via Naples Daily News, 4/16/19

Collier County School Board

Reporting by Rachel Fradette – Naples Daily News; Heather Doane – Leadership Collier Foundation
Next elections: August 2020

  • Superintendent Kamela Patton honored as 2019 Leadership alumna. “In light of Dr. Patton’s game-changing leadership in public education and CCPS’s annual participation in our Leadership Collier Foundation programs, we felt she was most deserving of this recognition,” said Michael Dalby, CEO – Greater Naples Chamber of Commerce. Naples Daily News, 4/12/19
  • Collier School Board proposes changes to student code of conduct. It considers expanding its zero tolerance policy relating to weapons on campus to include “simulation” of gun use. The annual review of policies will continue at the board’s next meeting. Naples Daily News, 4/17/19
  • Collier, Lee educators join statewide ‘walk-in’ for more state funding. Collier School Board member Stephanie Lucarelli, who joined walk-in at the Barron Collier High School, said her participation shows that the district and School Board support more state funding. All Collier School Board members were expected to participate in a walk-in, according to the union. Naples Daily News, 4/17/19

Fire Districts

Reporting by Jake Allen – Naples Daily News
Next elections: August 2020. Find your fire district HERE.

  • North Collier Fire Control and Rescue District approves contract for new chief. Deputy Chief Eloy Ricardo, a 19-year veteran of the district and Florida’s 2018 Professional Firefighter of the Year, will replace retiring Chief James Cunningham. Naples Daily News, 4/11/19
  • Opinion: Moving technology forward to better the community. Automating the 9-1-1 countywide dispatch system and removing 1960s-era VHF audio tones from dispatch broadcasts are helping fire agencies move toward goal of a 240-second arrival 90 percent of the time. By J. Christopher Lombardo, Chairman – North Collier Fire Control and Rescue District via Naples Daily News, 4/23/19

That’s it for April’s local news. Next up: State News in Review!

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