The issue. The existing hospital tower on 41 is 92’6” tall and is a grandfathered City height variance from the 42’ City Charter limit. The new NCH Heart & Vascular Institute is asking for a 6’2” height variance on the Telford location behind the Route 41 hospital tower. This would make the new NCH Heart & Vascular Institute building height 98’8”.

The question. What is your position on whether the proposed six-story, 98’ foot Heart Institute should be built on NCH’s property in downtown Naples? 

Here’s what the candidates have to say:

Ray Christman

I support the efforts by NCH to create a new Heart Institute to provide expanded cardiac care to Naples residents. We should all want to see NCH expand critical services, especially those that many of us may one day need.
To date, NCH has not come forward with a specific proposal regarding approvals needed for zoning and/or physical development associated with this Institute. When they do, any proposal for a new building would need to be decided by City Council as a “quasi-judicial” matter, meaning that each Council member would be obligated to vote based on the facts presented at that time during a public hearing. It is not appropriate for any member of the Council to indicate how he or she would vote in advance of such a hearing, especially based only on a preliminary description of the project.

Additionally, it is always important that we are mindful of the need to maintain the residential character and quality of Naples in any deliberative process.

John Dugan

Several concerns exist. Getting the new Heart & Vascular Institute is being held up by No Growth Special Interests delaying decisions about new critical health care services as a political issue, instead of having a conversation about a beneficial medical service. Additionally, communication disconnects exist raising concern about ethics, transparency, and use of standard decision-making processes, and thirdly, this resident priority is not being addressed directly and transparently.

My perspective is that voters living near downtown may be adversely affected by a needed ambulance ride to north Naples in a cardiac emergency. I have walked the City streets end-to-end listening to voters which include those who are concerned about NCH. Adding more 21st Century medical capabilities to our community is a commonsense and in-demand decision. I will support and pursue the downtown NCH Heart & Vascular Institute. We are an aging citizenry and need downtown access to a modern, cutting-edge Heart Institute.

Terry Hutchison

As an elected representative to which Florida Sunshine Law applies, I have been advised by the city attorney to not signal how I will vote on matters which may come before City Council.

I also believe it would not be appropriate for elected representatives, or those seeking to take office, to take a position on land development issues until all sides of the issue can be heard and relevant questions answered.

I support having a world-class Heart Institute available for Naples residents. NCH has come before the City Council several times to discuss plans related to their campus close to downtown Naples and their plans continue to be revised. I can assure Naples residents that I will honor the processes applicable to land development matters. Until such time as NCH brings forward planning documents that require votes from your city council, I will refrain from making statements that could prejudice the right to due process of either the petitioner or the public.

Beth Petrunoff

I cannot imagine anyone in Naples conceptually being against creating a leading heart center that features state-of-the-art robotic surgery technologies.

I believe the city, residents, and hospital, have the collective will to make this a reality and to build it in a manner that does not adversely impact neighboring communities. I have knocked on doors in every neighborhood and have heard both excitement about the heart center and concerns from residents in Coquina Sands, Old Naples, Lake Park, and Oyster Bay on the adverse effects of potentially increasing height, density, and traffic.

If I am fortunate enough to be elected as a City Council Member, I will look forward to receiving the hospital’s proposal. I will work diligently and with an open mind to be part of the solution. I want to make this happen in a thoughtful way where everyone in the community wins.

Ian Rudnick

I support building a state-of-the-art heart institute on NCH’s property. I believe it is a necessary forward-thinking part of protecting our population for many years to come. Current and future generations of Naples residents will benefit from it, and when seconds count, as they do in a cardiac crisis, having a state-of-the-art facility to treat patients will prove invaluable. While a smart approach to redevelopment must be adhered to, we must recognize the distinction between a medical facility and other commercial or residential development projects. I look forward to being a part of reviewing, in-depth as part of council, the NCH site plan, along with hearing input from the community. I truly believe we can find a way to get this life-saving facility completed in a way that the community will collectively support.

Read: Your Vote is Your Voice in Naples City Council Elections

Read: Proposed Plans for NCH Heart & Vascular Institute