NAPLES CITY COUNCIL BLOG: Naples City Council approves use agreement for church

2 p.m.: The city of Naples is considering a marketing plan for downtown Naples.

Naples City Council, sitting as the Community Redevelopment Agency, is in the midst of a discussion on how to best drive people to downtown Naples. One of the items the board is discussing this afternoon is to create a marketing plan for the city's redevelopment district.

The district's advisory board on Oct. 19 asked that the city provide $50,000 to the Downtown Naples Association to begin a marketing campaign.

The campaign, according to a memo from City Manager Bill Moss, would “be limited to Lee and Collier counties with the intent of attracting visitors who are already in the area, and permanent residents, to businesses within the city.”

If the CRA were to allocate $50,000 toward a marketing campaign, that money could only be spend within the boundaries of the CRA.

Cathy Christopher, chairwoman of the Downtown Naples Association, said if the city gives her organization the $50,000, the association would chip in an additional $30,000 for the campaign.

The marketing discussion is part of an afternoon-long discussion about the district's short term future. Councilman Gary Price said he expects there to be some decisions made by the end of the afternoon.

10 a.m.: Naples City Council has adjourned. The board will be back at 1 p.m. to hold a Community Redevelopment Agency meeting.

9:25 a.m.: Naples City Council voted 6-1 to approve another five year use agreement with Celebration Community Beach Church.

Councilwoman Penny Taylor cast the dissenting vote.

9:20 a.m.: Naples City Councilwoman Dee Sulick said council members need to keep in mind the difference between Celebration and other long-term use agreements in the park.

“At some point you have to say is this use appropriate for the this area,” Sulick said. “And one thing I think is important is that Naples Art Association, the Girl Scouts and the band are civic organizations and that is different.”

The use permit is on par with several different permits issued in Cambier. Naples City Council in April approved a five-year use agreement for the Naples Concert Band. The city also has a three-year use agreement with the Collier County Film Commission; a 25-year use agreement with Greater Naples Little League; and 50-year use agreements with both the Naples Art Association and the Girl Scouts.

9:13 a.m.: Naples City Councilman Gary Price said he wanted to make it clear that the use-agreement was for the band shell, not the park.

“This is something we should be aware of, but the park is a different use from the band shell,” Price said. “I don't have any problems with what we're doing here today, but I wanted to distinguish between the use of the band shell and the entire park.”

Community Services Director Dave Lykins said the city takes into account the usage of the park surrounding the band shell when calculating the fees.

The church pays $125 every Sunday in the off season and $175 every Sunday in season. That comes out to about $7,500 a year.

9:06 a.m.: Community Services Director Dave Lykins said the cost to the city to allow Celebration Community Beach Church use Cambier Park each Sunday is minimal.

The city has employees who service the park seven-days a week that is paid through the Community Redevelopment Agency's fund. The remainder of the costs come from janitorial expenses.

9 a.m.: Naples City Council is beginning its discussion about Celebration Community Beach Church's five year use agreement.

9 a.m.: Get ready for a market.

Naples City Council unanimously approved a request from the Third Street South Merchants Association to host an all day farmers market on Dec. 12.

The market – an extension of the weekly farmers market behind Tommy Bahamas – will begin at 7:30 a.m. While the market normally ends at 11:30 a.m., the Dec. 12 event will end at 2:30 p.m.

The approval also came with a fee waiver. Naples City Council waived the fees for the one-time event, at the request of the association. The group pays $150 a year to host the weekly event, but the Dec. 12 market would have cost the association $5,850.

Councilman John Sorey said he thought this event was a “great opportunity” and encouraged his fellow members to waive the fees.

“I think we owe it to them to treat it as a one-time event,” said Councilman Gary Price.

8:40 a.m.: Naples City Hall is standing room only.

Naples City Council this morning is scheduled to discuss Celebration Community Beach Church's five-year use agreement. The agreement is set to expire in November 2010.

The city has two fire marshals on hand to enforce the city's code. City Hall has the capacity for 143 people, 90 seated and 50 standing. People have been asked to sit outside, where a television has been set up for viewing.

The parking lots surrounding City Hall are filled, and one city employee said Celebration supporters began filling City Hall around 7:30 a.m.

The church uses the park most Sunday mornings from 8 until 10:30 a.m., and, according to a memo from Community Services Director David Lykins, “is treated consistently in comparison to other groups renting a public park.”

Lykins went on to say the church “pays rental fees on time, complies with park use policies, voluntarily relocated to other locations in the park during large community events or concerts scheduled at the band shell and leaves the park grounds in good condition following each use.”

The four-year-old use agreement — set to expire in November 2010 — means that if any other organization wants to rent out the property on a Sunday, the church needs to relocate.

The church has been under fire in recent months as the end of its five-year use agreement draws near. In February, community services board member Audrey Bender resigned from her position after the board said it would not discuss the agreement until the fall.

The discussion first popped up last year when council requested the board to look at special events in downtown Naples. Board members at the time said they felt the church needed to be included in discussions because of the number of people who attended the services each week.

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