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  • Tuesday, November 28, 2017 7:31 PM | News Desk (Administrator)


    Beginning the evening of Wednesday, November 29th, the Florida Department of Transportation and their contractor Midwestern will be replacing the storm water drainage structure at the intersection of US41 and 6th Avenue North. Two southbound lanes on US41 between 7th Avenue North and 6th Avenue North will be closed.  The sidewalk on the west side of US41 between 7th Avenue North and 6th Avenue North will be closed to pedestrian traffic as well.  The construction is expected to be completed by Monday, December 4th.  Due to seasonal traffic increasing, southbound traffic on US41 will be disrupted; seeking an alternate route during this time period is highly recommended.
     
    Questions, comments and concerns should be forwarded to FDOT's Public Outreach Manager Lisa Macias (239-985-7800) or the Project Administrator, Chris Mollitor (239-985-7883).

  • Thursday, November 09, 2017 12:54 PM | News Desk (Administrator)

    The ONA Board of Directors has voted unanimously to support the Ethics Naples ballot initiative for an improved ethics policy for the City of Naples. We believe this is an important step forward in ensuring transparency and fairness of City government, and limiting the impact of special influences on decision making. We hope you will review the attached email and website, and if you are supportive to print, sign and mail the petition.


    Thank you for taking the time to consider this issue.

    The Board of Directors
    Old Naples Association
    Better Ethics for Naples

    A Ballot Initiative
    The short story: The ballot initiative for an improved ethics policy for the City of Naples has made substantial progress in just one week!
     
    Please spend a few minutes learning about the proposal at www.ethicsnaples.org, and if you are supportive, sign the petition to put this issue before the voters of the City.

     

    The longer story: We ask your help and support for an important community initiative that will allow the City of Naples to greatly improve its ethics policy. You can learn more about the issues at www.ethicsnaples.org and also download and sign the petition. We need to collect about 2,000 original signed petitions to put this question on the ballot and allow City of Naples voters the chance to decide for themselves.

    As a taxpayer and City voter, we hope that you will take a few minutes to learn about this initiative to strengthen and improve our City’s ethics policy:
    • Learn more about our endorsers, including City Council and County Commission members, candidates for City Council election, and ethics experts.
    • Read recent Naples Daily News coverage about the initiative here.
    • One common question is "why do we need to do this?" We have summarized the key points in a one pager that you can read here.
    • What kind of progress have we made in the last week? Read our recent blog post here. 
    Naples’ existing ethics code needs a number of improvements to justify our City’s motto “Ethics above all else.” The proposed amendment will provide these improvements, including independent oversight by a volunteer appointed commission, a resource for education and consultation for City officials to prevent ethics violations, prompt and professional investigation of any complaints and appropriate enforcement and reporting should a complaint be confirmed.
     
    All these changes reflect “best practices” currently used by ethics commissions and offices in Florida, and this amendment to the charter has been drafted over the last year with help from ethics experts and lawyers and in consultation with our civic leaders.
    • As a City of Naples voter your signature on the petition is vital.
    Please download and read the petition here. If you are supportive, review the instructions on the cover sheet and complete the petition as soon as you can. Then, mail the signed petition and completed cover sheet to the following address:
     
    ETHICS NAPLES
    P.O. Box 7249
    Naples, FL 34101
    • Help the initiative go viral.
    Please ask everyone you know who is a City of Naples voter to become familiar with the issues and if supportive to sign the petition and alert their friends. Please forward this email and our website www.ethicsnaples.org to everyone you know who might be concerned.
    • Volunteer.
    Spend a few hours gathering signatures around the City of Naples. This can be a do-it-yourself stroll around your neighborhood with a few copies of the petition. Or, contact Ray Christman, our Executive Director, at ray.christman@ethicsnaples.org to find out more and get involved in gathering signatures at the farmer’s market or meeting places around town. This is a grass-roots, citizens-based effort and we need your help to succeed!
     
    Working together we can succeed in making an important, long term, positive improvement in the governance of the City of Naples. Please contact us at ray.christman@ethicsnaples.org if you have questions, comments, suggestions or concerns.
     
    Please sign the petition as soon as possible to get this critical issue on the ballot. The residents of the City of Naples deserve the highest standard of ethical governance.
     
    Thank you!
     
    Paid political advertisement paid for by
    Ethics Naples, Inc., P.O. Box 7249, Naples, FL 34101

  • Friday, October 27, 2017 11:36 AM | News Desk (Administrator)

    Short Story: Today marks the beginning of a petition drive to improve the ethics policy for the City of Naples. Please sign the petition at www.ethicsnaples.org to put this issue before the voters of the City on the February 2018 ballot.
     
    Longer Story:
    I am writing to ask your help and support for an important community initiative that will allow Naples to greatly improve its ethics policy.
     
    ETHICS NAPLES is a non-profit organization whose mission is to improve integrity and accountability in the government of the City of Naples.  It was created by a group of concerned Naples residents – including myself, Bill Lutz, President, Coquina Sands and Linda Black, President, The Moorings – to amend the City Charter to create a strong ethics code overseen by an independent City Ethics Commission.  Naples’ existing ethics code is weak and recent issues have raised concerns that we need improvements to ensure that we have a transparent local government accountable to the residents.
     
    You can read more about ETHICS NAPLES – its background, goals and purposes at www.ethicsnaples.org. This site contains the petition to place this matter on the February 2018 ballot, but only if we collect about 2,000 signatures over the next few weeks.
     
    The Board of the Old Naples Association has been encouraging City Council to strengthen and improve our City’s ethics policy for several years, and we strongly support this initiative. We hope you will as well.
     
    To allow the voters to consider this issue, ETHICS NAPLES must collect at least 1,500 validated signatures (10% of all registered voters) in order to place this question on the ballot of next February’s election. ONA has agreed to help with this process; hence this email.
     
    There are three things you, your family and your neighbors can do to support this critical initiative:
     
    First and most important, please download and read the petition. If you are supportive, review the instructions on the cover sheet and complete the petition. Then, mail the signed petition and completed cover sheet to the following address:

    ETHICS NAPLES
    P.O. Box 7249
    Naples, FL 34101
     
    Second, please ask everyone you know who is a City of Naples voter to do the same.
     
    Finally, if you are willing to volunteer, please email me or ETHICS NAPLES (ray.christman@ethicsnaples.org). We will need folks to help with gathering signatures at public venues, organizing events in support of ETHICS NAPLES and the like over the next few weeks.  This is a grass-roots, citizens-based effort and we need your help to succeed!  Once we hear from you, we will contact you shortly
     
    Thank you again for your help.  Please sign the petition help and get this critical issue on the ballot in February. The residents of the City of Naples deserve the highest standard of ethical governance.

     
    John Lehmann
    President, on behalf of the Board of Directors
    The Old Naples Association 
    president@oldnaplesassociation.com

  • Friday, October 20, 2017 11:34 AM | News Desk (Administrator)

    Short Story: The City will shortly reconstruct these streets. Those of you who will be impacted by the changes in parking, sidewalks and traffic volumes might want to be involved. More of our streets will be affected after this.
     
    Longer Story: The City is planning on redesigning and reconstructing these streets through the Old Naples neighborhood as part of the “Complete Streets” initiative. This will include redoing sidewalks, bike lanes, on-street parking and traffic patterns. In part it is to accommodate the proposed “lane diet” for Route 41, where the number of travel lanes might be reduced from 6 to 4 between 7th Avenue North and Goodlette Frank, and the likelihood of cut-through traffic in our neighborhood will increase.
     
    Ned Fryer and I attended an initial input meeting with the consultants yesterday. Based on feedback from those of you who responded to last week’s email, I drafted and delivered a comprehensive letter of response here. The consultants were receptive to the issues but there are many stakeholders along these thoroughfares, and continued community attention and involvement will be important.
     
    Actions you can take:

    1. Read our letter to the project consultants here for a sense of the issues, follow the 8th Street/3rd Avenue project and get involved when it comes back up for discussion.
       
    2. Volunteer to help us with this issue. We do not have enough volunteers to cover it at this time. Email me if you are able to help, and thanks.
       
    3. If you live in the impacted areas, please alert your neighbors who are not yet ONA members. Forward this email to others. Ask them to get involved, and ask them to join ONA. The larger and more active we are the more likely our concerns will be heard and addressed.
       
    4. This sort of change is coming to your area soon! Review and understand the “Downtown Naples Mobility and Connectivity Study Final Recommendations” documents on the City’s website here at item #7 on the agenda document. The cliff notes version in slide format is here, and the final draft report itself is here. This plan will govern the reconstruction of the primary and secondary streets throughout Old Naples, and will substantially impact our community for years to come.
     
    John Lehmann
    President, Old Naples Association 
    president@oldnaplesassociation.com

  • Wednesday, October 11, 2017 2:56 PM | News Desk (Administrator)

    Please join us for the first fall coffee with the Board of Directors of ONA. We are beginning to plan for several important organizational changes in structure and direction, and we want your input and assistance.
     
    Our organization has grown in size, activity, influence and need for volunteers. We have had several significant successes over the last year, including defeating the plan to get rid of Naples’ ethics policy, to build a parking garage on residential land in the heart of Old Naples, and to preventing adverse zoning changes affecting our neighborhood in the D-Downtown district. We have worked closely with the City to implement a Comprehensive Plan process that includes extensive input, we also face a critical election for City Council in 6 months. Our Board will change composition for 2018 and we need willing and able volunteers to carry our re-energized ONA forward.
     
    So come and share your thoughts about the next steps forward for ONA and what you would like to see happen! Elaine Wade, Jim Streicher, Sharon Kaltenborn, Chuck Huffmann and I look forward to seeing you all next Tuesday morning.
     
    Sincerely,
    John Lehmann
    President of Old Naples Association
    president@oldnaplesassociation.com

  • Friday, October 06, 2017 1:40 PM | News Desk (Administrator)

    Short Story: City Council put the garage project on hold for the foreseeable future at its Wednesday meeting, citing the uncertainties and expense of the Hurricane Irma recovery process. There has still been no response from Hoffmann Commercial Real Estate to the City’s August counteroffer, and it is reasonable to assume that the construction of a large parking structure on this site is very unlikely. We believe that this is the right outcome, and hope that Hoffmann CRE will propose a balanced development that resolves the complexities of this particular property and harmonizes with the neighborhood.
     
    Long Story: You can read the longer story in the Naples Daily News here.
     
    Next Steps: Your involvement – particularly your emails, calls and presence at City Council meetings – made the difference. We hope you will continue being active, informed and involved. There are plenty of other issues that will impact your quality of life in Naples. Some thoughts and issues for your consideration:

    1. Make sure you are an active member of your neighborhood’s homeowners association. In Old Naples, that is the Old Naples Association, www.oldnaplesassociation.com. (Even if you don’t reside in Old Naples, you may become a nonvoting member to support our efforts to maintain the character and charm of Old Naples.)
       
    2. Please be sure to let your City Council know that you agree with the decision to stop the garage, and that you want the overdevelopment of Naples to stop. The fastest way to reach all Council members is with the email address citycouncil@naplesgov.com.
       
    3. Subscribe to the Naples Daily News (at least electronically) so that wherever you are you can keep track of what’s happening in Naples.
       
    4. Pay attention to the City Council election coming up next February, and make sure the newly-elected Councilors reflect your views for our city.
       
    5. Stay tuned for more information on a much-needed initiative to improve the city’s ethics policy, and the imminent sale and development of the Naples Beach Hotel golf property.

    John Lehmann
    President, Old Naples Association 
    president@oldnaplesassociation.com

  • Thursday, August 17, 2017 12:38 PM | News Desk (Administrator)

    Short story: On Tuesday, the CRA recommended to reject the $6.0MM contract to purchase the proposed garage land, and to instruct City staff to renegotiate a deal with less conditions at $5.5MM. Today, City Council rejected the original contract 7-0, and instructed staff to renegotiate the deal at $4.6MM with a 5-2 vote, Finlay and Penniman dissenting. Now it’s up to the seller to decide.

    Be sure to see the action items at the end of this email!

    The longer story: Tuesday’s meeting (video here, Naples Daily News article here.) began with the unabashed support for the 350 space garage by Roger Reinke, Executive Director of the CRA, who briefed the CRA members with a lengthy presentation. This was followed by a summary of the contract provisions by Attorney Paul Heuerman (here).

    The public then weighed in, largely (30-4) from residents opposed to the garage. See the video beginning at 1:10 and running through 3:16; it’s an amazing display of voter concern. Coalition speakers ran from 2:21 to 3:07, and they did us proud. Thanks to Chair Ellen Seigel for letting us speak in an organized fashion.

    The CRA then received a proposal by Mayor Barnett to renegotiate a contract with reduced conditions, on the premise that the City could then own the land and engage in a meaningful planning process with the public and experts to determine both the best use of the land and what the real parking needs were. During this time, the lot would be used by the City for public parking with no exclusive spaces reserved for the seller. This received general support from the CRA who voted to recommend that City Council reject the $6MM contract to purchase the proposed garage land (7-0), and instruct City staff to renegotiate a deal with less conditions at $5.5MM (4-3, Finlay and Penniman (no garage) and Saad (price too high) dissenting).

    On Wednesday, (video here, NDN article here) after public comment regarding concerns with the appraisals, the fiduciary responsibility of Council to justify purchase prices over appraisal values, whether a supermajority vote was needed, whether there was a demonstrated need for parking, and the importance of public input, City Council voted 7-0 to reject the $6.0MM contract.

    City Council then moved to a motion to renegotiate the deal with the following terms:

    • $5.5MM purchase price, paid for out of the General Fund
    • The land to be maintained as a public parking lot
    • No exclusive parking spaces to seller, although the allocation of spaces required by prior development orders remained (just means the City can’t “sell” their use to a developer)
    • No obligation by the City to build a parking structure
    • Five years for the City to begin construction, with a five year extension for calamities like hurricanes and litigation
    • Property can be repurchased by seller immediately upon a negative decision by the City to build a parking structure at 100% of the purchase price (no discount penalty for the City)
    • No obligation of the City to support a charitable tax deduction for the seller
     
    This motion failed (3-4)! Finlay, Penniman and Saad voted NO as they had yesterday. Seigel, Buxton and Barnett voted YES, as yesterday. McLeod noted her concerns about the need for a supermajority, the parking lot valuation of $4.6MM and that she was going to make a motion at that price, and then voted NO. Doug Finlay commented “This is when City Council gets interesting!”

    Council Member McLeod then made a second motion, identical to the preceding motion except with a price of $4.6MM, which carried 5-2, Finlay and Penniman dissenting.

    So it’s over to Hoffmann Commercial Real Estate now. The lowest number they have previously expressed support for is $5.5MM, and the change in conditions from the $6.0MM offer is another negative. We’ll see about that over the next few days.

    Action items:

    Stay in touch – this issue will remain a live one through the next election unless Hoffmann terminates negotiations.

    Keep communicating with City Council: That includes the steadfast Doug Finlay and Linda Penniman who oppose any garage at this site on any terms, and Michelle McLeod and Sam Saad who insisted on a supportable price. Now that the proposed purchase no longer uses CRA funds, we need to press for increased support for the CRA District east of Route 41.

    Consider the long game. We will be communicating over the next few weeks about political activities over the next 6 months. New candidates for City Council who will care for the residents and voters, a tougher ethics ordinance and of course the garage will all be critical matters for us to press forward on, and we’d like everyone along for the ride!

    Join or increase your involvement with the advocacy organizations that are working hard on these issues. Most are underfunded and under-volunteered, and can use your support. These include the neighborhood associations (Old Naples, Coquina Sands, the Moorings, River Park, Lake Park), and the City-wide groups such as Citizens for Preserving Naples and Protect Naples. Get your friends, neighbors and condo boards active if they aren’t fired up already!


    John Lehmann
    President, Old Naples Association 
    president@oldnaplesassociation.com

  • Wednesday, August 16, 2017 11:21 AM | News Desk (Administrator)

    Read a guest commentary from two members of the Naples Garage Coalition in today's Naples Daily News:
    Commentary: Case not made for new Naples parking garage

    John Lehmann
    President, Old Naples Association 
    president@oldnaplesassociation.com

  • Monday, August 14, 2017 10:25 AM | News Desk (Administrator)

    If we don't pay for the garage, we can spend the money in better ways. (The 2017-2018 proposed City budget starting at page 137 shows that bonding a parking garage will prevent any other significant new capital expenditures for the next 5 years.)
     
    Here are a few options to think about:

    • Invest CRA taxpayer dollars between Route 41 and Goodlette where the opportunity for dramatic growth as well as increase in ad valorem tax values really exists. Here are some possibilities:
       
      • Baker Park, which Mayor Barnett has recently noted could cost $23 million. Let's ensure this becomes the gem of the CRA, and not with general fund dollars.
         
      • Much needed infrastructure projects in the design and market districts east of 41, including flood control, landscaping, sidewalks, underground utilities and parking. This will stimulate the development of the community we want there and support our merchants.
         
      • A public / private partnership with the Gulfshore Playhouse for a new garage near Goodlette with options for visitor and workforce parking.
         
      • Improvements in the communities of River Park, Anthony Park and southern Lake Park, the original intent of the CRA statute.
         
      • A shuttle service tying the entire CRA district together. Make it easy for people to get around without cars, and we'll have less traffic.
         
    • Continue working with the County to plan mutually acceptable ways to facilitate public access to the beach, including shuttle services from non-residential parking sites.
       
    • Solve the peak parking issue by creating a low cost program that requires those that work on Fifth during peak season evenings to park in another area and shuttle in to work. Listen to the City's own 2017 parking consultant who also recommended parking meters and valet service improvements before anything else.
       
    • Work with ride-sharing and app-based taxi services to facilitate their activities in Naples, for example by creating pick-up and drop-off areas near Fifth Avenue.
       
    • Don't forget continuing improvements for bicyclists, pedestrians and those with electric carts.
       
    Extra Bonus: Let the property owner develop the site. Cost to the City: $0. They are experienced, successful owners with the largest number of Fifth Avenue properties between Sixth and Third Street South. They will almost certainly build a luxury condominium / parking project that will include at least 113 spaces as currently provided. This would be similar to the project agreed to by the neighbors in 2013 (22 condominiums and 158 parking spaces) and which formed the basis of the expired Planned Development for the site. Most of those spaces would be available in the evenings as they are now.

    John Lehmann
    President, Old Naples Association 
    president@oldnaplesassociation.com

  • Saturday, August 12, 2017 1:16 PM | News Desk (Administrator)

    The Short Story: The Garage Coalition and the BID have both started online petitions to garner support. One was driven by a well-funded marketing machine supported with tax assessment money and pushed by City officials, the other was a grass roots, word of mouth viral event.

    What were the results and what do they indicate? Oh, and be sure to see the “rest of the story” at the end!

    The Longer Story:  The Coalition started a low budget email and word of mouth campaign for a petition that required a Naples address. Contact was made via Coalition member email lists and encouraged by the Coalition website.

    The BID responded with the full weight of their marketing budget. This included radio ads, full page newspaper ads, Facebook exhortations and posters on Fifth Avenue. A City official sent notice of the BID petition to thousands of people using City email. The drive targeted employees, relatives and customers and passers-by. The organizers suggested on August 9: “We’re in – are you? Let’s see how many signatures we can get if we all just ask one more person – your spouse, a co-worker, your boss, your kids, etc.”

    Not surprisingly, money and marketing muscle talks. As of Saturday morning August 12th at 9AM, the Garage Coalition had 1,438 signatures, and BID’s petition had 1,911 signatures.
     

    But what does these numbers mean?

    Review of the Coalition data shows that those opposing the garage:
    • Almost all (>99%) registered with their full names and Naples address
    • Were almost entirely City of Naples residents
    • Half could be confirmed as registered voters as of January 2017
    • Over half left took the time to explain the basis of their opposition

    We don’t have direct access to the BID petition data to make a full comparison. However we compared subsets of the two petitions on a consistent basis. On August 9th, we took the immediately preceding 200 petitioners from each site who left comments. We did that because petitioners’ names are available along with their comments. We then ascertained the petitioners’ local address through publicly available data, and this is what we found:
     


    In this “apples to apples” comparison one third of BID petitioners were outside of Naples, and only 1 in 8 were City voters. We have no data on how many were employees of BID businesses or “a co-worker, your boss, your kids, etc.”

    In contrast, 100% of the sample of Coalition petitioners were City residents and almost half were confirmed City voters.

    Conclusion: There are significant differences in the petitioners for and against the proposed garage. Those opposing the garage are almost entirely City residents and half were voters. Many pro garage petitioners were nonvoters (88%) who seem to have responded to a slick marketing campaign without a lot of thought other than wishing to have their Fifth Avenue parking facilitated. Café Luna all over again?

    Later today we will be sending the first 1,283 Coalition petitioners list to City Council so they can see for themselves and read the comments. That will give them a good sense as to how City residents and City voters feel!

    The Rest of the Story: Is the BID engaging in lobbying?

    The BID is a 501(c)3 charitable corporation (2016 IRS filing here). It was established by City Resolutions 10-12801 and 10-12820. It is run by a Board of Directors appointed by its members. According to the proposed 2017-2018 City budget (beginning on page 129), it has budgeted $465,000 from City and County tax assessments from its members, with which it pays employees ($110K) and engages in marketing ($170K).

    What is an organization established by the City with 501(c)3 charitable organization that receives half a million dollars a year of special revenue funds from the City, doing lobbying for the passage of a resolution benefiting their members over City residents? The IRS would no doubt have something to say about that; see their regulations for lobbying by 501(c)3 organizations here.

    Is the BID engaging in lobbying? You decide.

    John Lehmann
    President, Old Naples Association 
    president@oldnaplesassociation.com

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Address: Old Naples Association
PO BOX 110764, Naples, Florida 34108

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