Council members assess 2015 accomplishments
The year just past was a difficult one for the Marco Island City Council. Several major issues brought considerable debate and division amongst both the council and residents.
We asked council memgbers for their reflections on 2015 and we compiled their responses for our readers.
Council chairman Bob Brown
Council chairman Bob Brown, who only recently assumed the chairman’s reins, was somber in his reflections.
“I only wish we could have accomplished more,” said Brown.
“I do think the near-completion of the replacement of the Smokehouse Bay Bridge is a major accomplishment,” said Brown. Moving forward on the replacement of the aging Mackle Park Community Center was another that Brown listed.
“We’ve also been able to move the city forward by establishing firm financial foundation for future capital needs by establishing the “Bucket Plan” that was devised by our city manager,” said Brown.
Councilman Larry Honig
Quality-of-life issues were on councilman Larry Honig’s mind as he reflected on the passage of a strong noise ordinance.
“We created a strong ordinance to deal with noise issues that will help our code enforcement and police officers in dealing with unruly residents or renters. This goes a long ways to providing them the necessary tools to do their jobs in a more efficient way,” said Honig.
Councilman Ken Honecker
Councilman Ken Honecker was also a fan of the city’s “Bucket Plan,” and had nothing but praise for the ability of the city to move forward in what he described as a “reasoned and deliberate fashion” for the first time in the city’s 15-year history.
“Compare that to the county’s present debate where they are looking at floating a possible $70 million bond to take care of issues they knew were coming, but failed to plan for. Our plan is in place and we have a solid foundation for the future,” said Honecker.
“The implementation of the city’s magistrate program to deal with code issues was another positive move forward to help deal with code violations,” said Honecker.
Councilman Larry Sacher
As the former council chairman, Larry Sacher also reflected on the continuation of the “Bucket Plan,” which provides for what he considers the “proper addressing” of future capital needs in the operating section of the city’s budget.
“This is the first time in our history that we’ve seen planned road repaving and upgrading of some of our capital needs,” said Sacher. “This is a good thing for all our citizens.”
He also reflected on some of the items that didn’t passed, such as the much-debated rental ordinance.
“I do believe we were on the right path,” said Sacher. “It is unfortunate that the entire issue got bogged down in so much misinformation by those lobbying against it. The issue that was recently written about in Naples is a perfect example of someone turning a residence into a mini-hotel and the uproar from the neighbors.”
Councilman Amadeo Petricca
Not an individual to mince words, councilman Amadeo Petricca spoke of his disappointment that council did not move forward on two major issues.
“Our failure to pass a fair and equitable rate structure in the utility and the issue of the proposed rental ordinance were both big disappointments to me,”said Petricca. “Eventually someone is going to have to have the courage to deal with this for the best interest of all the residents on the island.”
Councilman Joe Batte
“I really think the professional management of our financial structure by the Cty Manager and with the support of the majority of council is probably our greatest accomplishment,” said councilman Joe Batte. “Roger Hernstadt has done a great job bringing expenses in line and concentrating on bringing debt down, with the backing of a majority of councilors. I hope we can still move in a forward direction, even though we are moving into an election year.”
Councilman Victor Rios
Councilman Victor Rios was pleased that two items that came before the board and initially approved were rejected in the end.
“I was pleased when the ill-conceived rental ordinance was eliminated after the petition drive by residents to bring it to referendum,” said Rios.
He was also pleased that council and staff backed away from the proposed “multi-purpose” building proposed for the Veterans Community Park and praised Marco taxpayers for their efforts to get the council to listen to their voices.