Jan. 23 Town Hall will let residents ask for answers from City Council

City councilors are planning a new approach to public relations.

The Marco Island City Council will hold its first Town Hall, giving residents an opportunity to ask questions and receive answers. The meeting is scheduled to begin at 5:30 p.m., Jan. 23, in Marco Island’s Community Room, 51 Bald Eagle Drive.

The forum steps outside the norm for council communications. At regular City Council meetings, the public is given a period to speak to council, but councilors do not engage in dialogue or respond. The forum will open two-way conversations. Residents will be able to get feedback from all or individual councilors.

At its Dec. 5 meeting, council discussed a number of Town Hall formats. Councilors also addressed how questions should be collected and prioritized. They agreed two options should be allowed: Questions submitted in advance and those presented at the meeting. Public input received prior to the meeting will not been seen by council until the night of the event, said Jerry Gibson, council chairman.

Originally, Gibson asked that advance questions be collected by Laura Litzen, city clerk. Once in her hands, they would be culled for duplication or discourteousness and prioritized by the number of questions per issue.

“If more people ask a question, it will receive more weight,” Gibson explained.

Councilor Joe Batte and Vice Chairman Larry Magel were not satisfied with the plan.

Batte feared having questions funneled through the city clerk smacked of control.

All councilors agreed transparency was necessary for the Town Hall to be a success.

The solution was to expand the number of people who previewed questions, Councilor Frank Recker suggested. Adding representatives from community organizations would remove doubts about how input was handled, he said.

Gibson asked the city manager to establish such a group to review submissions. At the Town Hall, submitted questions would be addressed first; and then, the floor would be opened to questions from the audience, Gibson said.

Citing that the process was too impersonal, Magel asked council to explore roundtables with councilors rotating from small group to small group. Councilor Trotter believed questions from the audience were a good idea provided they were submitted in writing and asked through a moderator.

Public speaker Larry Sacher, chairman of Marco Island Homeowners Association, asked council to consider the genesis of the meeting and allow people to pose questions openly in the spirit of a town hall forum. He suggested the meeting should be moderated by citizens and not the council chairman.

Logistically, that wouldn’t make sense, Gibson said. The mechanism for councilors to make known their desires to comment is a lighted panel at the chairman’s seat, he said.

Later, Gibson confirmed that the second part of the meeting would include direct questions from attendees; and offered that if it went well, council would consider more Town Halls.

Questions may be submitted to Laura Litzan, city clerk, 50 Bald Eagle Drive, Marco Island, FL 34145, faxed to 239-389-4359 or e-mailed to llitzan@cityofmarcoisland.com. Direct all questions to “Town Hall.” Questions received by Monday, Jan. 16, will be considered for the first part of the meeting.

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Comments » 7

sailingby writes:

Please live stream this Town Hall meeting or at least video and post on City website.

naples_rocket writes:

it will be the same group with the same concerns just as in any council meeting.

RayNetherwood writes:

Probably will be off island ... so if someone would field the following:

Marco Island is allowing people to park on grassed right of way/private property near the South Beach Access Parking Lot when either the lot is full (or people just don't want to pay for parking). It creates a safety hazard and makes the area look like a ghetto. Can the city purchase or lease the vacant lot at the corner of Seagrape and Swan and set that up for overflow parking (METERED) and start ticketing and towing people who simply park on the grass along the streets?

OldMarcoMan writes:

Couple of things, MarcoBiker that problem is a County Problem not a City one. Good luck on getting Donna to call you back unless you want to make a donation to her campaign,

Naples_Rocket you make a good point. It's a good observation how the City only seems to hear the people who agree with them.
I even wonder why they are even doing this, aren't ALLCity Council Meeting supposed to be open to the people to speak their minds?
Im looking forward to the City Elections this time, nothing will change but new faces are always fun.

Ian_Curtis writes:

Biker: There is nothing the city can do. It is not private property. All swales are in the public right of way and with only some exceptions, it is perfectly legal to park in a swale from 6 a.m. - 2 a.m. Those areas where parking is not allowed are marked with no parking signs in that area. They can add more parking but there is nothing they can do to stop people from parking in the swale.

Mayor_McCheese writes:

in response to Ian_Curtis:

Biker: There is nothing the city can do. It is not private property. All swales are in the public right of way and with only some exceptions, it is perfectly legal to park in a swale from 6 a.m. - 2 a.m. Those areas where parking is not allowed are marked with no parking signs in that area. They can add more parking but there is nothing they can do to stop people from parking in the swale.

If that is the case, why would/does anyone pay the $8?

Sparky100 writes:

I admit there are cars there from time to time but ghetto please, if the city goes and hangs no parking signs every 50' now thats ghetto. I drive by there a few times a week and have never thought it was a safety issue.

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