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Sidewalks 

This is a big topic on Marco Island lately and it has not gone unnoticed. I have been working with the city manager over the past month-plus to identify the total number of sidewalk miles on the island including potentially new sidewalks on vacant lots, how many miles are currently under city control vs individual property owner control, the overall maintenance costs, and the anticipated yearly maintenance costs in the future. 

In response to a citizen’s comments at the Aug. 19 City Council meeting, I said the situation is unacceptable and makes no sense. I called it government overreach. While City Council this year amended the sidewalk ordinance by significantly reducing the existing burdens that were placed on citizens back in 2014/2015, it is still not enough. I spoke to the city manager about the option of the Collier County one-percent sales tax that could be utilized to take over the sidewalk maintenance going forward or as a supplement. 

I believe that we all have uneasiness about imposing significant financial burdens on individual adjacent property owners due to requirements that they maintain property that they don’t own! It just seems un-American and unreasonable. I know there is a lot of blame that people want to place on the “vigilante” who is making all the complaints to the city and turning in property owners but let’s not forget that the only reason the vigilante has that power is because our city codes currently allow it! We need to fix the root of the problem. I also can say that our Code Enforcement department has much more important things to focus their time and energy on than citing homeowners for cracks or slightly uneven sidewalk panels. 

This issue is currently being worked on and reviewed, with options being prepared for consideration by Council but this needs to be addressed with finality as soon as possible. Our citizens deserve it and I believe our Council and city manager understand that.

Feel free to reach out to me directly on this via jgrifoni@marcocitycouncil.com or (239) 315-2089. 

Jared Grifoni, Marco Island

Judge RSW airport differently?

Congratulations to RSW for being in the top 50 in the U.S. But how many of those airports are similar to RSW? That is, a "destination" airport?

The amenities at this type of airport are different from those where you fly somewhere (Atlanta, Charlotte, etc.) and then connect to another flight to reach your destination. Or other Florida airports with a large international presence (Miami and Orlando).

The company doing the rankings should be comparing apples to apples, not apples to oranges. Virtually everyone flying into RSW has reached their final destinations. They do not need those extra amenities. No one hangs around RSW waiting for another flight.

I suspect more than 50 percent of those flying out of RSW will be going to an airport where they will connect to another flight. That's the airport that needs the business lounge, restaurants, shops, etc., while they wait for their connecting flight.

The criteria for evaluating destination airports needs to be different from that for hubs.

Lynn Reese, East Naples

Florida invests enough in education?

As students and teachers return to classrooms, here are some facts to digest.

Florida has the fourth-largest economy in the U.S. (Enterprise Florida), yet Florida legislators continue to underfund public education.

“Florida is ranked 43rd for per-pupil investment adjusted for regional cost differences,' according to the Florida Policy Institute. 'Recent comparisons indicate that Florida students are funded roughly $4,354 below the national average of $11,762.”

Furthermore, Florida ranks 46th in teachers' pay, the Tampa Bay Times reported.

Obviously, Florida is not living up to its potential to fund public education.

Investing in public education boosts the local economy and supports the cornerstone of our democracy. The defunding and devaluing of public education by our state legislators is an embarrassment and must stop. I urge Southwest Florida residents to contact their state legislators and insist on better per pupil spending and funding teacher salaries with legitimate raises and not bonus schemes.

(From a Collier County Public Schools teacher and first vice president of the Collier County Education Association board.)

Annette Hall, Golden Gate

'Talk is cheap,' problems remain

Being president by tweets, divisiveness, lies, misrepresentations and a staff of 'acting' inexperienced Cabinet members and staffers. Let's see some positive action.

Let's stop this record national debt coming day of reckoning. Why did you rescind the rules that banned gun sales to the 'mentally ill.' Can we do something to reduce the 44,000 gun deaths a year in the country by suicide and homicide. Every day 20 veterans die from suicide and what are we doing staying in Afghanistan?

July was the warmest month in history and we have removed ourselves from the Paris accord.

Where are your health care plans you boasted would happen on day one or your infrastructure plans from infrastructure week?

We have more drug deaths than all the fatalities in Vietnam yearly. The tax and jobs bill has been proved a boon to the rich only. Background checks for a start? We see farmers hurt by trade wars.

For a man who boasted he would be too busy to golf, it has been estimated he will visit his properties over 300 times, costing the taxpayers $340 million.

Cities hosting rallies have unpaid costs from a half-million and more. Empathy is a skill totally eluded by him.

Actions speak louder than words come 2020. Talk is cheap.

Glenn Mueller, East Naples

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