Guest column: City of Naples should buy that riverfront property

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By John Sorey

Mayor, City of Naples

On June 5Naples City Council will consider purchasing the 6.7 acres of land located on Riverside Circle and the Gordon River for $3 million.

This opportunity to purchase the property results from a right of first refusal agreed to in May 2008. City Council is allowed 30 days to match the sales contract conditions provided to the property owner by a willing buyer.

The acquisition of this property is a one-shot opportunity and the key is to control the property. As I look at the available land in the city, there

are no other parcels on the Gordon River that could be used as a waterfront park for our citizens and visitors.

Past City Councils have frequently been criticized for not having the “vision” to provide water access, green space, walking and biking paths and other recreational facilities for the public. There are always good reasons not to do something, and government often has difficulty getting through the politics of the day to have the courage to make difficult decisions.

We should share the “vision” of our past leaders and citizens who had the foresight to appreciate the long-term benefits of open space and recreational areas.

There is only one opportunity to purchase this property before it becomes a residential development, and we should not let this opportunity pass us by.

There are concerns about the price and the cost of developing and maintaining a new facility. I understand the concerns. However, the benefit over the

years of this being a city asset far outweigh these concerns, especially considering the fact that the adjacent city solid waste facility will be

relocated this year and the city owns the vacant property on the river immediately to the north of this parcel.

I have had many questions about what would we use the land for and my “vision” would be as green space. Having a sizable park on these parcels would greatly complement the future Gordon River Greenway that is now under construction and will cross the Gordon River to this property. This is an ideal location for waterfront recreational activities.

I regret that our community and council has not previously engaged in an in-depth dialog as to whether to acquire this property. No one likes

to make a quick decision of such significance. However, a decision must be made now and cannot be reversed thereafter.

It will be the people of Naples through their City Council members who will decide on purchasing these 6.7 acres. Please let your council know what you

think before the council meeting of June 5 and if possible attend the City Council meeting on that day beginning at 8:30 a.m.

Thank you for you interest in our community.

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