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CITY COUNCIL UPDATE Q1 2024

Updated: Apr 23



Friends and Supporters,


It’s been a busy beginning to the year here on Marco Island, with a lot of activity before the City Council, in addition to a major loss to our community.  Let’s get right to it.  

 

Passing of John Passidomo—Our community has lost a good man, a good lawyer, a good husband, a public servant and a friend to many.  John Passidomo, husband of our State Senator and Senate President Kathleen Passidomo, died in Utah following a hiking accident on April 3.  We mourn his loss and will join with the community in a celebration of life on April 27 at 4 pm at Baker Park in Naples, and at his funeral the following day at St. Ann Catholic Church in Naples at 11 am. Our prayers are with Sen. Passidomo at this sad time for our SWFL community.

 

Mayor/Pay raise for Future Councilors voted down—On May 8 Council approved putting two referendums before voters.  One was a simple name change of Council Chair and Vice Chair to Mayor and VIce Mayor, bringing the title of top elected officials on Marco into line with the overwhelming majority of cities across the State and the nation.  The other was to adjust the $6000 and $9000 paid to Council members and Chair, respectively, for inflation since those rates of pay were set in 1998 when the City Charter was adopted.  Both of these measures were voted down by the voters in the March primary, so the titles and rates of pay remain unchanged.

 

The Marco Island Health Care Bill of Rights—This legislation was discussed in the last newsletter.  I am proud to say that the Council passed this legislation unanimously at our meeting on January 8.  The legislation puts Marco Island on the map as one of the first cities in the country to enact such an ordinance, protecting our citizens from overreach of the kind our entire nation experienced as government at all levels imposed, without sound scientific basis, mandates on citizens across the Nation.  Our ordinance prohibits requirements to show vaccine documentation, prohibits employer vaccine mandates (including by the City of Marco Island), and requires a supermajority of Council to impose any mask mandate or vaccine passport.  The legislation further adopts in full the Florida Patient’s Bill of Rights and Responsibilities, and also specifies that the City will not recognize the authority of the World Health Organization or any other international body to impose health mandates or directives within our City, unless required by valid State or Federal law.  This ordinance tracks a similar ordinance enacted by the Collier County Commission last Fall, which applied only to unincorporated Collier County and not to the City of Marco Island.  With this law on our books, Marco Island is leading the State to Keep Florida Free.

 

Marco Island Now a Constitutionally Protected Freedom Zone—On the heels of passing the Health Care Bill of Rights, I sponsored legislation designating Marco Island to be a Constitutionally Protected Freedom Zone.  This ordinance is similar to legislation passed last year by our County Commission declaring the County (outside of incorporated cities) to be a Bill of Rights Sanctuary County.  We changed the designation here to a Constitutionally Protected Freedom Zone because some residents confused this legislation with Sanctuary City and State legislation for illegal aliens in many liberal cities to our North and West.  This legislation has nothing to do with illegal aliens and everything to do with protecting our citizens from unlawful overreach by the federal government. Specifically, the legislation provides that the City will in no way assist the federal government in enforcing any act, law order, rule or regulation which violates or unreasonable restricts, impedes, or impinges upon a person’s Constitutional rights.  If the City does assist the federal government in such a manner, an affected individual has the right to object directly to the City Council for redress, and if not addressed to his or her satisfaction, may bring the matter to Circuit Court.  I do not expect this to result in much litigation or activity before the City Council, but like the Healthcare Bill of Rights, it puts us in the City on record and places us under an obligation not to assist the Feds in suppressing constitutionally protected freedoms, which is right where we should be.  The legislation passed Council by a 6-1 vote, with a large number of residents turning out at our meeting on February 20 to support its enactment. 

 

Collier Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) Update—Long-term infrastructure planning is done for our county by the Collier MPO, an organization which is established for the purpose for metropolitan areas across the country under federal law.  I have served as the Marco Island representative on the Collier MPO for the last three years, and served in 2023-24 as its Chair.  I asked the MPO Executive Director, Anne McLaughlin, to share with the City the projects that have been approved through the MPO and are currently being worked on, and she did so at our March 4 meeting.  Among these are the the following:

  1. I-75/Collier Blvd interchange improvement

  2. I-75 at Pine Ridge Interchange improvement

  3. I-75 widening project from 6-8 lanes from Golden Gate Parkway to Corkscrew Road

  4. Collier Blvd. widening from Manatee Lane to North of Tower Road, from 6-8 lanes

The entire presentation given to Council can be reviewed by clicking here. Immediately after this presentation, Marco Island Bicycle Pathways Committee Chairman Al Musico gave an update laying out the Marco Island Bike and Shared Use Path Master Plan.  I copy of this presentation can be reviewed by clicking here.

 

Possible Application for Collier Tourist Development Council (TDC) Grants for Marco Island Projects—Marco Island taxpayers pay far more tax dollars to Collier County than we receive back in benefits.  Recognizing this, Council on March 18 examined a few projects which might wind funding from the Collier TDC to improve life for Marco residents and visitors. Before TDC can approve funding for any project, there must be a feasibility study completed to determine whether the project makes sense and will provide additional tourist revenue to the County.  Council approved two projects to be submitted for feasibility studies in the coming year — beach access improvements and all weather turf at Mackle Park.  If these projects are deemed worthy of funding by TDC, the county would pay 70% and the City would pay the remaining 30% of each project.  A third project, for complete buildout of the Marco Racquet Center phase 2, was delayed and will not be submitted until next year as a possible project.  We will learn in the coming months what the outcome is of the feasibility studies for the two projects submitted, and I will keep you informed.

Professional Soccer Comes to Naples—Finally, at our April 8 meeting we heard from Roberto Moreno, who is the CEO of the forthcoming United Soccer League Franchise coming to Naples.  The team’s name will be revealed in the coming months, and play is expected to begin in March of 2025.  The new club will compete in USL League One, which is in the third tier of American professional soccer.  It is equivalent to the AA in baseball and the ECHL in hockey, the league that the Florida Everglades compete in. League One is a perfect platform for young prospects to work on their game and prove they belong in the big leagues (or not).



Greg Folley

Marco Island City Council

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