Guest column: CIVIC GROUP REORGANIZES, SHEDS POLITICS, TAKES NEW NAME

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By Dave Trecker

Pelican Bay

Bigger, better, stronger.

The Collier Community Alliance (CCA) is restructuring with a new name to extend its reach and broaden its scope.

“We feel we can do more for the residents of Collier County,” said president Murray Hendel.

Renamed the Collier Citizens Council, the civic group plans to bring in more members especially from the inland communities and expand its activities.

“The CCA had a pretty good year in 2012,” said Bob Raymond, treasurer and founding member. The group recommended fire district consolidation, supported the school funding referendum, proposed a reallocation of tourist tax dollars, sponsored a forum to explain the state constitutional amendments and supported the county restart on economic development.

But politics often got in the way. For some, the CCA had become nothing more than a listening post for certain county commissioners, a place to guard their interests.

To avoid such problems in the future, the majority agreed to reorganize shedding politics and focusing on key local issues.

“To succeed, we must be strictly non-political,” said secretary Lydia Galton.

The new group will be diverse and made up of community leaders from throughout Collier County.

An ambitious line-up of projects is scheduled.

Hendel (Gulf Shore), Ian McKeag (Vineyards), Reg Buxton (Quail Creek), Bill Klauber (Pelican Bay) and Patrick Neale are assembling a Blue Ribbon panel of business leaders to examine the possibility of a “boutique” convention center in Collier County.

Jim Horner (Island Walk) is heading a committee to analyze benefits of consolidating the East Naples and Golden Gate fire districts.

Bill Spinelli (Grey Oaks) is leading an effort to review county revenue streams, including impact fees and tourist taxes.

Linda Penniman (Moorings) is chairing a group that will sponsor an environmental forum on the growing issue of copper in our waterways.

In addition, the broad question of how to proceed with economic development will be examined.

“We’re excited about our reorganized group and our line-up of projects,” said Hendel. “We have a team of heavy hitters, and we’ll be adding more in the months to come.”

Stay tuned.

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