by Jim Melican, president of the Gulf Shore Association of Condominiums
The third decade of the 21st century has begun, and 2020 will be a very important year in the City of Naples.
Much has been accomplished by our current City Council, notably the completion of the beautiful new Baker Park and the construction of the new Category 5 resistant fire station.
Our leaders have also been working to update the vision for the future of our City, last revised in 2007. And, early this year, the Council will be establishing objectives and setting a budget for a 2030 Vision Plan.
By all accounts, the future looks bright that Naples will continue to be on the top of nearly everyone’s list as a wonderful place to live. But we all realize that an engaged citizenry is one of the prerequisites for that to continue.
This year, on March 17, we will have a very important election, which will largely set our course for the next four years and beyond. Naples residents will be selecting a Mayor, as well as three City Council members, together four of the seven members of the City’s governing body.
With more than double the candidates for these positions, residents will have to engage with the issues and the candidates to ensure their vision aligns with our hopes for the future.
There are a number of key matters which the City must continue to address. How to strike the right balance between desirable redevelopment while not sacrificing Naples’ small town character?
Fixing the storm water infrastructure, which affects water quality in the City’s lakes, bays and just off the beaches. As well as the issue of traffic flow and congestion, including whether additional parking garages would be the best and most cost-efficient use of redevelopment opportunities, to mention only a few.
It is vital that the City’s residents educate themselves about these important issues, and, before casting their votes in March, that they understand how the candidates would respond to them.
In the special Council election last year, only 30% of the City’s registered voters actually voted (4,411 of 14,551). One of GSAC ‘s initiatives early this year will be to increase the percentage of participating voters by providing an opportunity for citizens to learn more about what the key issues are, and to hear the candidates for elected office discuss specifically how they would address them. For that purpose, we will be hosting a Candidates Forum on January 23 at 8:30 a.m. in Sugden Hall at St. John’s Episcopal Church, 500 Park Shore Drive. Naples residents are cordially invited to attend. We would request that those intending to do so please submit a complimentary registration online at GSACNaples.org, but advance registration is not essential to attendance.