In my opinion the month of March is the busiest one in Naples. It also signifies that I will have been back in the Mayor’s seat for a year and it seems that the days and months have flown by. Therefore, much to the angst of my peers at the magazine I have a lot to write about and might as well get it all out as our season will start coming to a close in April and by mid May it will be for the most part finished.
I read the print section of our local newspaper every day and have done so for forty years plus. I am computer savvy but I just can’t bring myself to read the paper online. In 1984 when I was elected to my first term as a City Council member I learned rather quickly to scan the paper first thing in the morning to hopefully not see my name in it and if I did I hoped it was something positive and not negative about a vote that I had made on Council. Well, for the most part I managed to survive on the good side of the editors and on occasion I didn’t but it was okay, just part of politics. I then figured out a system of how to look at certain sections first where the local news was covered and the editorial page was a great starter.
In one of my former terms as Mayor I opened the paper one morning, went to the editorial page and was surprised to see in the editorial that Jeff Lytle who was the former editorial page editor at that time had said in the editorial that he thought I was ubiquitous. I immediately felt a pang of panic run through me because I had never heard that word before and it just didn’t sound good to me. After looking it up I had to smile because he was referring to the fact that at whatever event was happening in Naples I seemed to be there. The word stuck with me throughout the years and this season in Naples I feel like the word ubiquitous sums it all up for me. Believe me, I’m not complaining! I enjoy being busy to the max and it seems to agree with me.
I have always said that our community of Naples, Florida is perhaps one of, if not the most generous and charitable places to to live in the world. I am fortunate to be able to play a small part in the many wonderful events that take place in Naples both as a Charity Auctioneer and as your Mayor. In 1984, when I was a rookie City Council member there were literally a few property owners groups and I’m not sure they were even associations. Today, I am proud to say that our entire city is represented by Homeowner Associations. In addition, we have a President’s Council whose members are appointed by their individual associations and they meet once a month at City Hall for presentations by our city staff and they are kept well informed of projects that are not only happening in our city but future ones that are on the drawing board as well. They in turn pass the information back to their members. I have always been an ardent supporter of these groups. They along with our various advisory boards (all volunteers) are perhaps one of the most valuable assets that we elected officials have. Many of the homeowners associations send their own newsletters out to their members, which is a great way to communicate.
Although I might on occasion disagree with an opinion or viewpoint they have I have never actually responded because they are certainly entitled to their opinions and I do respect them. After having said that I am for the first time ever going to voice my opinion about a newsletter that one of the associations recently sent out to their members. The article claimed to include an update of lawsuits that were filed regarding 5th Avenue South. These lawsuits were filed after City Council applied laws that have been in place for years to recent re-development approvals on 5th Avenue South. I would have expected the board of this association to be objective and factual when reporting the status of these lawsuits. In my opinion that’s the purpose of an update by a neighborhood association to their members. Unfortunately I feel what the board distributed was one-sided and biased. This “update” contained a link to court documents filed by the plaintiffs, but not to documents filed by the City. It even failed to include the order of the judge dismissing one of the lawsuits.
Our City Council, 5th Avenue South property owners and the community at large have worked together for decades to improve the vitality of our downtown. A master plan was created in the 1990’s to avoid a repeat of the high vacancy rate and empty storefronts. Over the years Fifth Avenue South has been honored with many prestigious awards and is widely recognized as one of the best downtown’s in the State of Florida. While we might not all agree on everything, we should continue and work collaboratively to keep our 5th Avenue South the beautiful, vibrant street that it is. Having lived in the City of Naples for 44 years I am still as enamored with it today as I was in July of 1973 when I first moved here. Please enjoy all that we have to offer and I do respond to e-mails @ email@example.com
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