At the outset of the meeting on Monday night the Marco Island City Council accepted the resignation of City Manager Roger Hernstadt.  Hernstadt has served the Marco community for 3 years, and has been a highly visible member of the community in addition to his wife Jessica who volunteered for numerous charitable organizations.

Hernstadt came to the community after many years in municipal service in the Miami-Dade area and as the City Manager in Marathon, Florida.  He was the first city manager hired with Florida experience and undertook several controversial challenges facing the community and previous councils.

The meeting would open with the City Attorney reading a communication from the manager offering his resignation effective July 7. Councilor Batte moved to continue his contract for one year and only he and Councilor Brown supported that motion.

Members of the public would come forward and caution councilors that they would be making a serious mistake by acting to accept the resignation.

Councilors Honig, Grifoni, Rios, Roman and Reed voted to accept the manager’s resignation.  Batte and Brown opposed that motion.

Councilors would debate whether to accept the manager’s resignation effective immediately or accept Hernstadt’s offer to stay on to July 7th.  Council would recess for 15 minutes to allow the Chair to phone the manager, as two members of the board had conflicting recollections of their conversations with the manager earlier in the day and his desire to stay until July 7th.

Honig reported back that the manager communicated to him that he would respect the will of the council and step aside immediately and concentrate on his family’s transition.  Gil Polanco, the City Budget Director was appointed the interim city manager by a 7-0 vote.  Polanco had previously served in that capacity prior to Hernstadt’s hiring when Jim Riviere vacated the City Manager’s position.

Council will meet on Wednesday, February 8 beginning at 5pm in council chambers.  Councilor Batte and Brown will not be available.  Councilors will discuss how to proceed at that time to fill the vacancy.

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  1. I am very disappointed in the members of the community that have been so mean-spirited toward our new city council leadership over the resignation of the city manager.

    This small minority of people lashing out and attempting to create dissension and division obviously prefer the “good ol’ boy” system, where only those with an “in” or are personal friends with a city councilor or with the city manager get special treatment. I believe this system was deeply ingrained in the community and possibly fostered by the city manager.

    The sweeping victory in the recent election of the new city council speaks strongly of the island-wide dissatisfaction with the way our city was being run. Councilors Grifoni, Honig, Reed and Roman were elected to help fix a broken system. They, along with Councilor Rios, are clearly working to serve Marco Island in the very best way they can, through honesty, transparency, and communication, which has been seriously lacking in the Marco Island City government for many years. 

    I am very happy with the fresh start our four new councilors are bringing and they continue to have my support. I hope and pray that the ugliness and negativity will stop because many that I know are happy to move forward and are focusing on the positive. Thank you Councilors Grifoni, Honig, Reed, Rios and Roman for putting the future of Marco Island FIRST.

    Kristina Pruyn

  2. My comments and two cents’ worth – Having many years of experience in the hierarchy of association management and government, I truly can say that the City of Marco Island has lost a great city manager. It is a proven fact that when an organization or government body has high turnover with its senior staff, manager or CEO, it is not the CEO, but the volunteers or elected officials that are the problem. So goes the Marco Island City Council. Bill Moss got this city going and spent 10+ years here. He has been the City Manager of Naples for many years and they love him. Following him on Marco was Mr. Thompson, who did not last long, and then a friend of some council members, Mr. Rivera, who was not a trained or seasoned manager. Then came Roger, a bright star in the sky. His professionalism and numerous accomplishments have enhanced the fiscal standing and overall wellbeing of the city (thank you Roger). I see there is mention of a recall petition; not a bad idea. It is hard to believe that our citizens elected two inexperienced councilors who have never participated in the Marco Island Government at the committee or volunteer level. Yes, a sad state of affairs and we may be stuck with it. My only hope (and I know this will happen), is that Roger and Jessica will go on to another city where they will do good work and be appreciated.

  3. Roger always acted in a perfectly gentleman and managerial manner. As Chairman of the Planning Board I met with Roger for one year prior to each Planning Board meeting and we always discussed future planning in appropriate ways and always with the best interest of the city. One of the main issues in Marco Island is the lack of parking and one of Roger’s main objectives was in seeing to it that all projects included extra parking at the developer’s expense. When the issue over the hotel and Veterans Community Park came before the Planning Board Roger believed that because the hotel developer was paying for a substantial number of improved parking spaces along Park Avenue as well as building a Band Shell that is part of the 2009 Master Plan for the Park Veterans Community Park. These improvements were part of the consideration that the hotel developer was willing to pay for approval to build the hotel. It is important to note that Roger NEVER agreed to the number of hotel units or the height of the hotel building or to any aspect of it. This would be left to the city’s Planning Board and City Council. Remember that there were many objections when the Marriott first came before the Planning Board for approvals but after negotiations the Marriott agreed to 18 modifications in order that the citizens of Marco were satisfied. This would have been the process regarding the proposed Hotel but City Council eliminated that when it voted to rescind any possibility of the hotel being built by not allowing the Park’s PUD credits from being sold to any developer. Roger, you are a superb manager. The action/s of City Council are most disappointing.
    Irv Povlow

  4. Andre’ with the price of land on Marco, where do you see us building affordable housing without allowing increased density on that land? If commercially zoned land allows hotels, what should be built there in your opinion? We have to follow our Land Development Code & Comprehensive Plan in what we allow to be built on each parcel of empty land.

  5. To all who are requesting a recall of the recently elected council, I ask: are the voters ill informed or are the political elite, EOM and MIPO executive board angry?

    I would accept Mr. Hernstadt’s resignation, after all he made the submittal and had the fortitude or lack of in requesting the letter be read by city attorney.

    Objectively, Mr. Honig as Chairman, handled the event as fairly as possible in managing public comment to minimize histrionics and given disparagement clause.

    Most poignant resignation request: He request possession of his computer. Really?

  6. Enough with the hotels and time shares. We have plenty of places for our visitors to stay with all the rental properties and vrbo’s. Marco Island needs apartments for those that live here. It’s shameful to see a majority of the people that make a living on Marco can’t live here and have to travel up to 1 1/2 hours each way. Hopefully the new city manager and city council can encourage builders to build affordable housing rather than more hotels.

  7. I can only echo the comments made by the previous commentators. Roger Hernstadt was an asset to our community and he will be sorely missed. The four recently elected councilors plus Mr. Rios had no confidence in Mr. Hernstadt and did not recognize all of the positive things that he has done for this city. Roger has more knowledge and experience in running a city than all five of those who voted against him put together. All five, led by Council Chair, Larry Honig with Victor Rios, Jared Grifoni, Howard Reed and Charlette Roman have self serving political agendas and not the interests of Marco citizens in mind. They planned Mr. Hernstadt’s ouster during the recent election while professing publicly that they could work with him. Well they got what they wished for and we the citizens of Marco Island will suffer. I hope that everyone who voted for the gang of four are satisfied.

  8. WOW – but I can understand his reasons for wanting to resign – this faithful servant, devoted to Marco has been raked over the coals. Good luck finding a competent replacement. The Island and the residents will suffer for this. SO SAD. The council members who voted for his resignation should be ashamed!!!

  9. “Marco Island, on Florida’s southwest coast, with a year-round population of about 17,000 residents, pays Book $60,000 a year to lobby on its behalf in Tallahassee. A 10-page contract requires that Book meet with city officials no less than once a year and to “monitor and track all legislation of interest to the city.”

    money down the drain

  10. I would suggest that residents of Marco Island attend the next council meeting and make their feelings known. What the five members of council did this evening was the most blatant public atrocity in the history of Marco Island. I wish those five could be recalled.

  11. Unfortunate to be loosing a committed individual who understood the small sense of community on Marco Island. That is what happens when malicious political greed gets in the way of what is just. Hopefully, since this council seems to be good at planning, they can plan to learn about the community. Roger and Jessica we thank you for always putting Marco first and the countless contributions you have made.

  12. Roger Hernstadt has done more for the benefit of the citizens of Marco Island than any previous city manager. He is the consummate professional whose skill and expertise, especially in coastal communities is unsurpassed. Our new councilors are making a grevious mistake in their treatment of Roger and in accepting his resignation. While his accomplishments are too many to list, he started the “bucket” program, refinanced bonds saving us a ton of money, hired a lobbyist benefiting us immensely, and not only reorganized many city workers, but also insured we fully fund their pension liabilities, among many other accomplishments. He is going to be very difficult to replace, especially with someone so knowledgeable and skillful, not to mention his and his wife Jessica’s commitment to our Island and its citizens.

  13. Kathleen Reynolds

    The elected officials who voted to accept this resignation should be recalled. They have limited to no understanding of the Marco Island community. The local leaders that I know unanimously support the good work of the City Manager. This decision leads us into the chaos and dissention that was prevalent prior to his arrival. Roger Hernstadt is certainly one of the most competent civil servants I have encountered in my thirty something years here. Shame, shame on the extreme incompetence of the five members of the City Council who caused this to happen.

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