Friday, December 3, 2021

A Look at The Year Ahead


Photos by Steve Stefanides | New Station 50.


 

As the City of Marco Island prepares to look ahead at the challenges facing municipal government and its residents, the number of issues continue to grow. Some of those that will face considerable scrutiny by councilors and city staff will include, but not be limited to, some we’ve continued to write about. 

 


Assisted Living Facility Debate 

For approximately two years now, the community has wrestled with an ongoing debate regarding plans for an assisted living facility being proposed for a segment of the property presently owned by the Naples Community Hospital. 

Initially, the petitioner proposed a facility which would entail a combination of independent living apartments, smaller assisted living units and a dementia care facility on that property. The proposal was brought forth by the Chancey Design Partnership, along with CW Development Partners and Watermark Communities. 

To satisfy the community concerns when first proposed, the developer offered to bring the total height of the buildings down to 40 feet and only three floors. They also limited the number of units to a total of 166 units and beds not to exceed a total of 220. Those plans showed 71 larger independent living units, 68 assisted living Units and 29 memory care units. 

Naples Community Hospital committed that the funds acquired from the purchase of five acres of the property would be utilized to construct a new Urgent Care Center to replace the aging facility which was constructed through fundraising efforts by local citizens.  

That plan did not pass the scrutiny of city council, even after a lastminute adjustment came forward to further reduce the size of the proposed development. Due to a requirement within the city codes, the petition would not be able to be brought up again until after January of 2020. 

Late summer of 2020, the Chancey Group again came forward with a revised plan, and have it aired in front of both citizens groups and the Planning Board. The new plan would once again downsize the facility to be built, but this time propose it as part of a Planned Unit Development. 

The Planning Board has given its initial nod of approval and those plans await a hearing before the City Council for its review. 


Two Large Capital Projects on The Horizon 

These two projects involve rebuilding of Fire Station 50 and the “Build-Out” of Veterans Community Park. Both loom on the horizon and they both will have a substantial impact on the city’s finances. 

Combined, taxpayers could be looking at close to $24 million in expenses. Those numbers are considerably higher than original estimates, which were projected only a few years ago. It is unclear what the total numbers may end up being, or how financing is being proposed to handle the costs. 

Although original construction was planned to begin by January of 2021 for the Veterans Community Park, it now may be deferred until April 1, 2021. Final numbers for the fire station project have not been brought forward to council as of yet.  

Both of these projects will be completed utilizing the much debated, “Construction Manager at Risk” process.


Comprehensive Plan Update 

Early in 2020, the city released a RFQ (Request for Proposal) regarding the acquisition of a firm who would be capable of looking at the island’s Comprehensive Plan and review it for updating the document to bring it into line with any new state regulations and/or changes desired by the community. That review will be undertaken over two years, with the first phase completed by the end of September 2020 and the second phase one year later. 

The cost for both phases of this contract was $139,922. More workshops for both council and the general public will be held during the season to allow for maximum input and they are open to the general public. 

The Comprehensive Plan is imperative as to how the island plans to develop and re-develop over the next decades, as well as ensuring appropriate infrastructure needs are met. The public’s input is imperative to ensure council is aware of their concerns and desires.


Vacation Rentals in Single Family Neighborhoods 

One of the most hotly debated subjects on both social media sites, as well as at council meetings, revolve around the disruptions some believe are resulting from single family home neighborhoods being disrupted by what some blame on out-of-control short term rentals. 

Determining what can be done and how that can be accomplished will be topic that is front and center before the council over this next year. It is a subject matter discussed throughout many communities in Florida on both the east and west coasts, as well as during the upcoming legislative session in Tallahassee.


Sidewalks 

The continuing debate over who should be responsible regarding this city-wide issue is another one of which much discussion has been held, but little action taken. The issue was recently given some unwanted exposure when the Public Works Director himself recently was proposing that a local street he lived on was proposed to receive new sidewalks, with city supported maintenance, without so much as a debate regarding the expenditure of approximately $350,000.


Photos by Steve Stefanides


 

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