By Pam Nicholls GSAC Board Member
Submit questions or feedback online 

Two years on from his appointment as City Manager, Jay Boodheshwar is buoyant with confidence – in his staff, in ‘The Naples Way’ of doing business and in dealing with the climate and development challenges ahead.

In May 2022, Jay Boodheshwar packed his bags and moved from Palm Beach to Naples to be sworn in as Naples City Manager. His ‘To Do’ list was extensive but addressing staff shortages at City Hall and in Public Safety was his first priority.

“I knew I was walking into a situation with high vacancy rates within the overall organization as well as in key areas of leadership,” says Jay. Coupled with that, was a shortage in staffing in the police department that had forced the pause of several units in order to allocate resources to essential units.

“Having a fully staffed senior leadership situation today and a fully staffed Police Department for the first time in many, many years is something I’m really proud of,” says Jay. “It’s very rewarding.”


But for him it wasn’t just about filling the seats, it was about who he filled the seats with. Deserving promotions were made from within, with seasoned staff taking on higher levels of responsibility, and new faces were recruited bringing with them creativity, passion and quality. He also made needed changes relative to pay and compensation that made jobs more attractive.

“We are competing with other public agencies and the private sector more and more for talent and if we don’t keep up, than the quality of the staffing won’t be there.”

Jay also paid special attention to heightening the culture of service that “we provide to the community and to each other.” He calls it ‘The Naples Way’ of doing business. “I want to make sure that our employees understand their value, are appreciated and acknowledged for their value and those hungry for development are given the opportunities.”

He believes retention is key, noting “There’s a cost to turnover, in both dollars and quality of service. The longer the term of the employee, the better they know the community.”


Response and recovery to Hurricane Ian was not on Jay’s To Do list but he is gratified by what his team was able to do in both the short and long term to get the City and its citizens back to a semblance of normality. It was not Jay’s first rodeo. He’d dealt with multiple wind events in Palm Beach but never a surge such as Ian brought.

“It was a huge curve ball thrown at all of us but beyond the physical recovery, what was really cool was to see how communities stood together and neighbors cared for each other. My phone was ringing constantly with people asking how they could help the city,” relates Jay. “There was a spirit of working together that made me feel really good about this community.”

Is he concerned by predictions that the impending hurricane season will be one of the most active on record?

“The reality is, it just takes one storm,” he says. “They can predict five, 10 or 20; it’s still the same game plan. You know the risks; you plan for the worst and hope for the best and identify lessons learned.  Ian will remind us why it’s important to evacuate and get to higher ground.”

Interestingly, Jay believes the sense of urgency created by Ian in terms of resiliency and sustainability, two of the major challenges ahead for Naples, is a blessing in disguise.

“We are a coastal community, we have increasing tides, we have sunny day flooding and we have an antiquated storm water system that relies on gravity-based pipes. The beach outfall project is just one of many things that need to get done to move water. Our challenge is to prioritize projects and figure out how we are going to fund major infrastructure for the next 10-15 years in the next year or two.”


Redevelopment within the city and development in the county and how that affects our quality of life is another significant challenge for the City, says Jay.

He believes there needs to be more of a collaborative effort made by developers, County and City officials, to prevent any diminishment of the specialness associated with Naples.

“Of course we have the tools – codes and regulations – to manage redevelopment and make sure the specialness is not compromised and quality of life is maintained or even improved. What I would like to see, especially from developers, is a recognition of their obligation to do the right thing. To submit plans that have added value for the community; that go above and beyond what’s simply required.”

“Kudos to anyone who comes to us with proposals that contribute to the specialness of Naples without us having to ask. That will tell us that they get it.”