Mayor’s Bill’s Corner

Mayor Bill Barnett

After viewing our City of Naples during the early morning hours of September 11, 2017, right after Irma had passed through, I had very little hope that Naples would have a season at all. Even an eternal optimist such as myself could not have foreseen that this season would turn out to be the busiest one ever. Today is March 31, and we are all trying to catch our breath from the tremendous amount of visitors that this season brought us.

Naples continues to receive national recognition and the latest was a Gallup poll showing that out of 189 cities nationwide, we were the number one being city in the nation for well being. Is this a contest that we compete for yearly? Absolutely not, we just do what we do best and that’s give our best effort through the Blue Zone Initiative and being a city that truly cares about the health and happiness of our residents. We do that by not just talking about making our city bike-friendly, pedestrian-friendly and driver-friendly, but look around and you can see it.

Take an early morning drive around our city and see all the walkers, joggers and cyclists enjoying the fact that they are leading healthy lifestyles. Naples Community Healthcare (NCH) is one of the main reasons that while the national longevity average is dropping, ours is increasing. Dr. Allen Weiss, the CEO of NCH had the vision of what we could become and led the charge with the Blue Zones Project. Shortly after the City of Naples signed on, and our human resources department created an initiative that our management team and our employees endorsed, we offered them health incentives with the bottom line being bonuses for reaching healthy goals, as well as monthly contests with nice prizes.

It was fun for all, but not an easy task for everyone, so it was gratifying for me to see the results. I will admit that when Blue Zones was first proposed, I was a little skeptical about it, but soon realized that there was absolutely no downside to the overall goals that were being set. I became a big fan and personally became involved. I realized that having healthy employees means lower insurance premiums, better attendance at work and better overall
A attitudes (including mine). It’s all about healthy living and making healthy choices and our city will continue to promote this great project because it works.

Talk about a big deal with some bragging rights, well we have it. Our fire department recently received the top honor any fire department could achieve and that is our ISO rating. The ISO is a national organization that ranks fire departments for insurance purposes and, in a nutshell, they use a scoring system with a Class 1 being the best and a class 10 needing a lot of improvement. It is perhaps the most difficult achievement that any fire
department can earn.

Florida has 600- plus fire departments and we are one of just 33 among them that has received the Class 1 rating. We are number 307 of more than 48,000 departments nationwide (less than 1 percent nationally achieve this rating). I like a quote that I once heard and it’s 100 percent true: “Those we serve deserve the best protection we can provide every day.” Congratulations to Fire Chief Pete DiMaria and his great City of Naples Fire Department! The Naples Community thanks and appreciates you!

I always say that when we go on our summer break, our staff breathes a sigh of relief. Now I say that with tongue in cheek, because we leave them with many projects to work on and many to complete. We will shortly be doing our capital improvements budget workshops where we will hear what each department thinks they need and then we will assess and discuss those needs in preparation of our final budget hearings in September. When you read this article, summer will be half over and hopefully you have had, or are having, a restful, quiet summer with
a little vacation thrown in. We are a 24/7, 365-days-a-year city and your mayor and city council, along with our management staff and all of our employees, try our best to serve you in a manner deserved by those who live here, be it part time or full time.

I respond to e-mails at: and I enjoy hearing from you whether it’s about a recent visit here or a new restaurant that you tried.

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