The GSAC Board of Directors recently invited Councilman Ray Christman to present at our virtual board meeting about “What’s New in Naples.” After a 20-minutes presentation, Councilman Christman responded to questions from our members. For those of you that were not able to attend, he also shared this brief synopsis.
GSAC Board Meetings are open to building managers, association board members, and general members of the community. Upcoming meetings are listed here.
Dear Gulf Shore Residents –
On March 9, I had the opportunity to speak (virtually) to the GSAC board and their members at their monthly meeting. I appreciated this invitation to brief them on what I see as the most important issues impacting Naples today or soon coming down the road.
In this short communication, I want to briefly highlight for all of you these same items. Please feel free to contact me at any time at firstname.lastname@example.org (404-213-1035) if you have questions or want to understand any matter in greater detail.
Here is a summary of key issues in three broad categories:
- The Environment: For me maintaining a clean environment (especially water quality) is our top priority. It is essential for our quality of life and for our ability to have a successful economy. This means strong regional and state efforts to address Red Tide, algae blooms, and sea level rise. Key current initiatives include:
- Finalizing design and implementing this year on the $25 million Gulf Shore Beach Outfalls project. Desired outcomes: beach nourishment, stormwater management, better water quality.
- Cleaning and restoring our City’s system of 21 lakes used for stormwater As an example, over the last year, I have led an effort to bring together residents and City staff to develop a pilot program to clean and maintain Swan Lake in Park Shore. Next target: Devils Lake.
- I have long advocated that the City find a way to resolve the Venetian Bay seawall dispute. City Council has now announced the outline of a proposed settlement with the parties. While details still need to be finalized, great progress has been made.
- Growth and Development: Since joining Council, I have focused on making sure our comprehensive plan and code of ordinances were consistent with our new vision document, which emphasizes maintaining the small-town charm and character of Naples as first priority. Some specific accomplishments include:
- Toughening standards on which developers can receive variances from existing land use codes.
- Clearly setting the height limit for commercial building at 42 feet, as set forth in a voter amendment to the City Charter in 2000.
- Considering implementation of changes to stormwater management for new construction of all kinds, requiring that water needs to be properly managed on site thereby reducing the burden on the taxpayer financed city stormwater management
While these planning and regulatory changes are being addressed, Naples continues to be a hot spot for new development, more now than prior to the pandemic. Among the current key projects under consideration are:
- The new Gulf Shore Playhouse theatre complex on 1st Avenue South near Goodlette Road. The City and its Community Redevelopment Agency, which I chair, are considering building a new parking garage on land donated by the Playhouse. I believe the Playhouse is one of the most important civic projects that will be undertaken in Naples in the next decade and that Council should support it, including through construction of the garage.
- The proposed new Naples Beach Hotel development, initially approved by Council in 2019, has again become controversial as the developer has communicated various changes they want to make to the site plan, including elimination of the 18-hole golf course. My goal from the onset has been to make sure the “green space” on the property, whether in the form of the golf course or not, was protected in perpetuity. This is now in doubt, to my great concern.
- Through the CRA, the City is initiating this year what we are calling the “41/10 Master Plan”. I hope we can accomplish for this area (bordered by Rt 41, Goodlette Road, 7th Avenue North and Fifth Avenue South) what was accomplished in 1994 through the Andres Duany plan for the Fifth Avenue South corridor – a new vision for this important but still developing part of our city.
- Responding to the Pandemic: Finally, I want to share a few comments about City Council’s efforts over the last year to deal with the local impacts of the pandemic. This has included expeditious and appropriate actions to restrict beach use last spring and summer when the City was overwhelmed with out-of-town beach-goers, providing more flexibility for restaurants for outdoor dining, and setting new rules for beach-end parking to prioritize local residents.
Most important was adopting a local mask wear order to better protect the public. In this regard, Council’s efforts have been most disappointing. I advocated for approval of this action last July after Collier County acted in a similar manner, but it took five months — until December — for a majority of Council to join me in this vote. This would never have happened even then without the strong leadership and advocacy of GSAC.
It is therefore even more disappointing that Council voted at its last meeting on March 17 to allow the current order to expire on April 13, without further consideration or public input.
Again, let me thank you for the opportunity to share this update. I look forward to continuing to work with all of you to make our great city an even better place!
Naples City Council