At the last meeting of the Commission, one subject on the agenda was Median Landscaping. The FDOT – (Florida Transportation Department) – advised Collier County that we had won the grant for median landscaping along the new section of US 41 East from 951 east to Greenway Rd., and also for the remaining section of Collier Blvd/951 between US41 and Marco Island. The State will pay the cost to landscape both of those medians, but the county must agree to maintain those medians from that point on. Of course I was for it, and will be supportive for any other community who seeks the same agreement. As we all know, our median landscaping has drawn attention from all over the USA for the beauty it creates in our community, and many counties and states have followed suit. The folks at NABOR (Naples Area Board of Realtors) have always been supportive of this initiative, as has the CBIA (Collier Building Industry Association), the TDC (Tourist Development Council) and neighborhoods in general, because they see the value in the beauty it creates, as well as the positive return on investment. So naturally I spoke in favor of moving forward. To my surprise I was voted down 4 to 1! In fact, the other commissioners even stated they wanted to see no more median landscaping! One even said the people in my area couldn’t afford it, and the others stated they wanted to hear nothing further on the subject.
I am wondering what all of YOU out there think about the subject. A few years ago I asked the same question and had a rousing response, for which we kept records, but possibly that was before any of the new commissioners were here, and taxpayers voted to move forward and they agreed to increase a few dollars to handle the maintenance. We started that fee, but then, according to the county manager, the maintenance went so high that we had to stop any further installation and just maintain what we had. Years back we had our own staff doing the maintenance work rather than hiring out. The Commission at that time wanted to “save money” and hire outside firms. The price has been climbing ever since, and we’ve had to grapple with work that could have been better if handled in-house. I have suggested we go back to in-house maintenance but the others haven’t been supportive of that effort. The beauty that has been created has meant a lot to so many developments, and I’ve heard this from many all over the county. This beauty affects our property values, the salability of our homes, definitely our tourism market, and oh by the way, the State FDOT says it affects the safety on our roads. (I just went by the scene of a fatal accident today, but because of the tree in the way, it stopped the car from going to the other side of the road and killing more people.) Also, as the State says, drivers are more relaxed when the medians look lovely and they seem to drive a little slower. We have a very low tax rate, and we are the richest, healthiest and happiest county in the State of Florida, and I dare say in the USA! Why wouldn’t we want to look our best!
Folks, please let us, your elected officials, know how you feel about continuing the median landscaping that we’ve begun within the county on county and state roads, or not. I started this letter telling you that the landscaping would be a grant from the FDOT, and if we turn it away they will take it back and give it to another county, but I want all of us to know how you feel about the landscaping throughout the county. I understand the commissioners want no more of it, but is that the way you feel also? No, we can’t do it all at once, but there are quite a few areas that have been waiting for their turn, like Immokalee Rd., Collier Blvd., and the list goes on. Everyone has been patient, knowing they will have their turn at landscaping, but now the other commissioners say no more landscaping. You need to tell us what you want. You are our bosses, the taxpayers, and we need to hear from you. Please copy all of us in your notes so we can feel the pulse of the community. I may be wrong, but I want YOU to tell me no, not anyone else. You can write to us at:
We did this community survey before, but times might have changed, so let us hear from you again.
County Commissioner, District One.