Marcophiles: Businesses paying for public art? Wrong place, wrong time


— On April 5, Marco Island’s City Council may revisit a proposed ordinance that would require non-residential developers to pay for art visible to the public. Even existing businesses would have to incur the same expense for art if they improve their property by 50 percent or more of assessed value.

There will be time another time, if necessary, to argue the big idea of whether taxpayers should ever be forced to pay for art around town.

For now, however, can we agree that charging business owners for public art at this juncture is preposterous? We are in a deep recession, the worst in decades. We have so many empty storefronts here now I’ll bet the reflections off the glass could be seen from space.

While many other communities offer tax incentives to businesses locating there, how smart is it for us to do just the opposite here?

Oddly, the people supporting this concept of public art say it’s not a tax or an impact fee. They quibble over definitions. Let’s keep it simple.

This scheme would mean having to pay money to the city in order to bring a new business to town or for making major improvements to an existing one.

Some say it doesn’t affect non-business owners. How naive. If you build a new shop in town and pay the arts fee/tax/benevolent donation/whatever, won’t you pass the cost along to your customers? Of course. Or, might you just go elsewhere?

Let’s do a test. You’ve seen the Blue Man/Marco Man/Flailing Man, the blue naked guy statue at city hall. The city — that is taxpayers — bought that. Some claim it’s art. By contrast, for three seasons, it’s been merely prized avian real estate for nesting families of mockingbirds.

So let’s sell the thing and use the proceeds, if any, for a project to attract new businesses and jobs to Marco. The birds will be fine. So will City Council, if one of its first decisions with the new members on board is to give the public arts ordinance an artful but definite demise.

Don’t forget. The public arts issue is likely to get city council’s attention again on Monday, April 5.

A breakfast fit for Lions

Question: When is “National Pancake Day?”

Answer: It was Feb. 23.

OK so we all missed it. But there’s a way to make up for our oversight in a few days with an all-you-can-eat pancake treat for $5.

It’s the Marco Lions Club annual pancake breakfast, from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m., Saturday, at the United Church, 320 North Barfield Drive.

There are a lot of different names for pancakes — flapjacks, johnnycakes, flapcakes, battercakes, griddle cakes and more. And the Lions have been cooking them for this annual event for at least 15 years.

For $5 in advance or $6 at the door, you’ll get scrambled eggs, coffee, milk and pancakes, all the pancakes you can eat, no matter what you call them.

So if you’d like to attend this time, call Lee Pershing at 239-293-2700 and reserve your $5 breakfast for a good cause.

An eye on the eyes

Here’s a great opportunity to get a free glaucoma screening this Friday. The Naples Lions Club is providing this service as part of the clubs observance of World Glaucoma Day.

The free screening will be from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Lighthouse of Collier facility in the Bayfront complex at East Tamiami Trail and Goodlette-Frank Road. The Lions also are offering pressure and vision tests.

Glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness, so early diagnosis and treatment are crucial. For more information phone the Lighthouse of Collier at (239) 430-3934.

True, honestly

One of the delights of the Marco Movies is that some of the theaters have several tables and chairs. The chairs at each table are on rollers for maneuvering so everyone at the table can see the movie screen.

One recent evening at the movies, we overheard this conversation between a man and a woman as they entered the theater and surveyed the available seats ...

Woman: “Want to sit at one of these tables honey?

Man: Well, no. Some of the chairs face the wrong direction.”

They took other seats, apparently believing that some people at each table would have to face the rear of the theater. Bummer.

Chris Curle is a former news anchor for CNN and for ABC-TV stations in Washington, D.C., Atlanta and Houston. E-mail

Don is a former ABC News correspondent and bureau chief and a former news anchor for CNN and ABC-TV, in Atlanta. His Farmer File column appears Fridays in the Naples Daily News. E-mail:

© 2010 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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