February 2015 State of the City – Visions for the Future



Residents and visitors alike recognize the ambiance created by the tree-lined streets of Naples. For the 17th consecutive year, the City of Naples received the Tree City U.S.A. designation and, for the seventh consecutive year, the City received a Tree City U.S.A. Growth Award. The City of Naples urban forest consists of 20,336 managed hardwood trees and palms on streets, rights-of-way, parks and other public property within the City. Staff planted 233 palms along Gulf Shore Blvd. North as part of the annual Tree Fill-in Program, continuing to:

  1. Protect and enrich the environment
  2. Maintain and improve neighborhood character
  3. Enhance the appearance of streets within the City
  4. Improve the appearance and urban design of commercial corridors while protecting the residential character and charm of the City.


In a community visioning process, the goal of making Naples the green jewel of Southwest Florida was a critical element determined by the community and adopted by City Council. This goal included three objectives: restore Naples Bay, promote sustainability, and establish more green space. Recognizing the physical, biological, and socio-economic relationships related to societal goals is one of the keys to  sustainability. A balanced approach requires making decisions that avoid ecological deterioration and emphasize sustainable development by determining an economic valuation of natural resources. Thus, by evaluating the worth of natural resources, the ultimate goal of maintaining a healthy ecosystem that provides the services humans want and need can be attained.

The goal of the City of Naples Natural Resources Division is to fulfill the City’s vision of becoming the green jewel of Southwest Florida.

Improving and protecting the environment requires working closely with local, regional, and even statewide organizations. To this end, staff continues to work closely with the Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve by serving on their advisory committee addressing science and social issues related to the diversion of water from the Golden Gate Canal and the Naples Bay watershed into Henderson Creek and the Rookery Bay watershed.


The Community Services Department – Recreation Division provides a wide variety of recreational opportunities for residents of all ages, integrating social and cultural pursuits. The Norris Center at Cambier Park remains known for the variety of cultural programs that are offered such as the Bluewater Bluegrass & Acoustic Series, Paradise Coastmen Barbershop Chorus, Tribute to Patsy Cline, and nationally known comedians, all performing on stage during the winter season. The Norris Center offers a mix of programs for adults and children throughout the year. For adults, programs such as art, foreign language, computer skills, and a sit and stretch program are offered. In the summer months, the building is full of children’s specialty camps that focus on cultural arts and science. The Center continued a partnership with the United Arts Council utilizing the Art Gallery that provides monthly art exhibits during season. During off-season, the gallery is reserved by other local artists.

The Norris Center is also the home of Gulfshore Playhouse. This past season, Gulfshore Playhouse welcomed 19,032 patrons, an increase of 29.7 percent over the previous year. Based on national averages of money spent on auxiliary services when attending a performing arts event, Gulfshore Playhouse patrons spent nearly one million dollars on related services such as shopping and dining. The 2013-2014 season was Gulfshore Playhouse’s highest-grossing ticket year, breaking all previous box office records.

Fleischmann Park was “headquarters” for over 150 summer specialty camps (adding a dozen new ones from last year) with over 1,000 registered campers. The Afterschool Program, contracted to Gymnastics with Cricket, averages an enrollment of approximately 35 students. New kids Zumba, afterschool art classes, and theater classes were among this year’s additions.

River Park Aquatic Center offered 81 programs, seven camps, and held 37 rentals. Included were lifeguard training, lifeguard and water safety instructor training, learn to swim classes, swim central classes, swim & snorkel camps, recreational swim team programs, Arthritis Foundation classes, and other water exercise classes. The River Park Aquatic Center was the home pool for Naples High School for the third consecutive season, with two meets hosted. Seacrest Country Day School and The Village School had ongoing rentals, with swim practices for their own swim teams throughout the 2013/14 season.

Swim Central this year hosted 1,495 sessions, with 162 preschool participants. River Park offered 80 classes, four camps, and 134  clubs/rentals that included exercise classes, art classes, culinary classes, dance classes, cycling classes, holiday camps, summer day camps, school day out, fitness memberships, computer lab public access, and Girl Scouts.

The summer elementary camp at River Park served 78 children grade K through going into 6th grade. The summer middle school/high
school special needs camp served 19 individuals with disabilities.

The Cambier Park playground received a much needed facelift with a Grand Opening Celebration on September 24, 2014. The very popular pirate and ocean theme of the original playground has been preserved, enhanced, and developed in even more colorful detail! The renovation included replacing outdated and worn equipment, removal of old and deteriorated wooden planks with replacement of recycled composite material, replacement of all the swings, frames, hardware, and seats, installation of several new interactive play and climbing features such as a new and unique pyramid rope climber and new slides. The renovation includes redesign of previously enclosed play features for better visibility for parents, a stage for creative play, and a new spray feature on the renovated pirate ship.


The City again received the Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting from the Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) for last year’s audit. For the ninth year in a row, the City also received GFOA’s Budget Award. These awards are considered the highest forms of recognition in public sector financial reporting and few cities receive both of these recognitions from GFOA.

In addition, the City has earned the GFOA Certificate of Achievement for the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR). The Certificate is designed to encourage and assist state and local governments to go beyond the minimum requirements of generally accepted accounting principles to prepare comprehensive annual financial reports that evidence the spirit of transparency and full disclosure and then to recognize individual governments that succeed in achieving that goal. Only 3,908 of all government units in the United States have achieved this recognition.


The collective efforts of the residents and businesses of Naples, City Council, and City employees continue to ensure that our city will work to achieve the vision goals established by the community and meet the challenges that are part of sustaining the status of a premier city.

If you have any ideas, suggestions, or comments, please call me at 239.248.1550 or email me at mayor@naplesgov.com.

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