NAPLES — City Council voted down a plan Wednesday to install a webcam on the Naples Pier, despite an offer to pay for the project privately and predictions that it could boost tourism.
The 4-3 vote against the camera, which would have live streamed pier sunsets to the Internet, was not enough to dissuade Naples resident David Bishop and backers of the idea.
“We have other alternatives,” Bishop said, adding that other city locations may be considered for the project.
Bishop and his wife Judy, along with Naples philanthropist Lavern Gaynor, first conceived of the idea to install a webcam in 2011. They came before City Council the same year.
Council members had concerns about privacy issues, wanted to know how the camera would be paid for and which groups might benefit from any online advertising or their affiliation with the city-owned pier.
Bishop said Wednesday the city could choose to own the camera or could allow charities to pay for the project through donations. Gaynor and the Bishops created The Norris Fund with the Community Foundation of Collier County to back the project.
“I have no concerns about private donations funding this,” Bishop said.
Bishop estimated start-up costs to be around $15,000. Annual maintenance and the live streaming service could also be paid for by the nonprofit.
“We’re not asking for anything from the city,” Bishop said. “After listening to the city budget presentation, it’s clear you’re worried about every dollar that’s being spent.”
Bishop’s words did little to quell lingering concerns.
Councilwoman Dee Sulick said she worried the project would eventually try to profit from advertising off the pier. She said some would argue there is already too much advertising in the city and county to drive tourism.
“I just don’t see where this is going to make that much of a difference or be picked up,” she said.
Councilmen Bill Barnett, Doug Finlay and Mayor John Sorey voted in favor of the camera, saying if done right, it could be of benefit to the city. But Sulick and council members Teresa Heitmann, Sam Saad and Gary Price voted against it.
Bishop said the decision surprised him.
“It just blows me away that they see no benefit,” he said. “The vote was 4 to 3. How do I turn those four?”
Same Noe Award
River Park resident Willie Anthony, a a member of the Community Redevelopment Agency Advisory Board, won the 2013 Sam Noe award. The award is given to an outstanding advisory board member every year.
It is named for a former Planning Advisory Board member who died in 2006 and was known for his dedication to community revitalization and historic preservation.
This year’s nominees also included David Ball of the Planning Advisory Board and Norman Rocklin of the Public Art Advisory Committee.
Finlay nominated Anthony.
CRA sunset date
The Community Redevelopment Agency voted to proceed with an extension of the CRA’s sunset date, based on a recommendation by its advisory board.
While the agency, comprised of City Council and the mayor, seemed to lean toward an option presented by their consultants that would have them borrowing as they go to pay for capital projects, no option has been decided on.
“The reality is these scenarios will be determined through the annual budgets,” said Jeff Oris, senior redevelopment specialist with the consulting firm Calvin, Giordano & Associates, Inc.
The Fort Lauderdale-based firm hired by the city to make suggestions about the sunset date, will now schedule public meetings to be held before April 1.
At least two public meetings will be held during high season to update the list of projects to be accomplished by the CRA.
The vote was not unanimous. Heitmann voted against the motion, saying she disagreed with the process by which stakeholders were notified of the possible changes and identified as special groups or individuals to be met with outside of a public meeting.