County poses question to public: What do you need?

Lisa Conley
Marco Eagle

The City of Marco Island recently asked its staff what its concerns and needs are, and now it’s going to ask its residents the same thing through a county-wide needs assessment.

File photo of a person filling in a form

“To fully mature and realize its potential, Marco Island needs to develop a community-based strategy that supports a thriving community for all ages," councilor Charlette Roman wrote in a position paper.

"Crafting that strategy depends on a thorough understanding of our total population. Economic, demographic, and cultural changes mean that we have an ever-changing population, which requires that we periodically conduct evidence-based community assessments," she continued. "I can find no data that shows Marco Island has ever conducted such an assessment.”

That’s about to change. Initially, Roman was going to suggest that the city spearhead its own needs assessment; however, she then learned that the county, specifically a group of community organizations around the Schulze Family Foundation, is already conducting a county-wide needs assessment that will include Marco, which means the city won't have to foot the bill.

More:Community organizations are conducting county-wide survey

"Marco Island resident Jackie Pierce, who is President of Greater Naples Leadership, has been spearheading this effort for Marco Island," Roman wrote in her position paper. "She approached me about this study, and I realized that, as a part of this collaborative effort with the Richard M. Schulze Foundation, Marco Island can acquire essential information at no cost to Marco Island taxpayers."

In cooperation with Miami-based consultancy firm QQ Research Consultants, the project will include quantitative research, such as census data analysis, and qualitative research in the form of surveys.

At least 2,500 people will be interviewed for the survey, according to previous reporting, with more opportunities to participate online in the second phase of the project.

"We wanted to get a picture of what Collier County looks like, from data but also from people's perspective," Mary Beth Geier, Florida region coordinator at the Schulze Family Foundation, said in a previous interview.

According to Roman, a few benefits of the study include:

  • Improve the ability to identify gaps in community interconnectedness to help eliminate the isolation of vulnerable citizens
  • Enhance the ability to identify and address issues that promote a thriving (not just livable) community for all age groups
  • Foster a sense of greater community and civic engagement among all segments of the population 

The assessment process will include surveys and informational interviews with stakeholders; on Marco, those stakeholders are the Sunrise Rotary, Noontime Rotary, some JW Marriott employees and the Greater Marco Family YMCA.

Interested Greater Marco Family YMCA members are invited to fill out the 20-minute survey which will be administered in the front lobby at the Greater Marco YMCA from 7:30 a.m. to noon and 4 to 6 p.m., Sept. 18.

As for the other residents, a focus group will be conducted with a cross section of Marco Island citizens.

Marco Island city councilor Charlette Roman during her time on the Planning Board.

    At the Aug. 21 council meeting Vice-Chair Jared Grifoni expressed his support for the endeavor, especially since it's not going to cost the taxpayers. 

    "I think this is a great opportunity ... and the fact that it's free is a tremendous bonus," he said. "I support getting as much data as possible so we can evaluate things going forward and this is just another opportunity to do that."

    Councilor Howard Reed agreed. 

    "I think it will enhance the data we have and hopefully from it will come some actionable items," he said. 

    All of the councilors also praised Roman for pursuing the opportunity. 

    "I applaude you for this," Chair Larry Honig said at the Aug. 21 council meeting. "I heard you mention under your voice that you got lucky; that's not right. What happened was you are so respected and well known throughout the county that somehow it came to you, and it would not have come to just anyone."