After a year of effort that included a community-wide online survey that produced nearly 1,600 responses and approximately 1,500 comments, as well as numerous neighborhood workshops and meetings with stakeholder groups, the City of Naples’ Planning AdvisoryBoard (PAB) delivered its report to the City Council containing its recommendations on how the City’s 2007 Vision Statement might be revised or modified in the City’s currently planned 2020 Vision.
Perhaps the most striking revelation of that report is how little has changed over the past twelve years in what City residents believe the vision for Naples’ future should be.
The PAB is therefore recommending that the five principal Vision Goals established in 2007 should remain the same. They are:
Preserve Naples Small Town Character and Culture
Maintain an Extraordinary Quality of Life for Residents
Maintain and Strengthen the Economic Health and Vitality of the City
Maintain and Enhance Governance
However, as the individual comments that are referenced in the PAB’s report makes evident, there is an inherent tension between two of the goals; viz., “Preserve Naples Small Town Character and Culture” and “Maintain and Strengthen the Economic Health and Vitality of the City.”
The conundrum is how to balance residents’ overwhelming preference to not have Naples transformed into a facsimile of some Florida east coast cities with the demographic calculus that, in the next twenty-five years, the population of Collier County is projected to grow to over half a million.
Another delicate demarcation is that between preservation and renewal. Naples is not Colonial Williamsburg or St. Augustine.
Our residents want the City to be a great place to live, not just a nice place to visit, but we also have to recognize that our local economy – our merchants, hotels and restaurants – to a significant extent relies on people who do not live in the city coming here to shop, eat or sleep. That in turn mandates that our beautiful downtown areas cannot be allowed to become stale, but rather must evolve and be reinvigorated overtime.
These are issues that our City Council must wrestle with as it tries to fill in the interstices of the 2020 Vision Statement, threading the narrow line between retaining the best of what Naples has to offer (and what drew most of us to live here), and yet recognizing that the forces driving growth and change are inexorable and that Naples cannot stand still.
Because this dichotomy – Balancing Growth and Quality of Life – is at the heart of what our local governmental officials must weigh as they make choices affecting our future, the Gulf Shore Association of Condominiums (GSAC) has decided to make it the subject of the first of this year’s community forums, which will take place at St. John’s Episcopal Church on Park Shore Drive on Thursday, November 7 from 4-6 p.m. Our speakers will be Charles Chapman, Naples City Manager and Nick Casalanguida, Deputy County Manager of Collier County.
While this event is hosted by GSAC, it is open to all interested community members who want to learn more about this challenging topic.
Furtherdetails and sign-up information are available on GSAC’s website, GSACNaples.org.
by Jim Melican
The Gulf Shore Association of Condominiums will host four community forums that are free and open to the public:
Balancing Growth and Quality of Life on November 7th
Naples City Council Candidate Forum on January 23rd