No matter who has won the recent elections, the challenges are daunting to say the least. Playing the blame game will not provide any of the answers or solve any of the problems which our nation, state, county or community will face in the future. It will take adults to solve the issues. Gender and political party will have little to do with helping to find the solutions.
What is true is that continuing unsuccessful policies of the past, failing to admit to the need for fundamental changes in how we deal with the challenges, will get us no further toward finding necessary solutions and moving forward in a positive fashion.
Simply throwing money at problems without first reevaluating the root causes of those issues has not served us very well, in my opinion.
I believe it is true that the closer we are to the challenges facing us, the better we can deal with them. Therefore, it is imperative that our small communities deal with the issues we have here at home and lead by example. That we solve some of our own basic problems right here locally by making the hard decisions will show those around us we can move forward in a positive and productive manner.
As residents of our community, we face a number of important issues such as this very divisive debate regarding how to deal with short term rentals and the impact they have begun to have on our neighbors and friends. There has to be a way in which we can all co-exist as a community that respects the integrity of our single–family neighborhoods and not watch them become disrupted and a potential drag on the values of our homes.
Our friends in condominium developments across the island have learned to deal with the potential impact of those that would become disruptive and unruly within their complexes, therefore learning to live in peace and quiet while still enjoying all this great island has to offer to all who come here. They, fortunately, have not needed to rely upon code compliance officers or our police department except on rare occasions, and then only as a last resort.
I am sure that those who will take the oath of office will soon come to realize how important this issue is to our residents. Those voices are being heard throughout Florida and action is being demanded by residents throughout the state, not just here on Marco Island.
Another issue that has been simmering for too long is the responsibility of the city to take over the maintenance of sidewalks throughout the city. Yes, the owner of a new home was required to install the sidewalk when he or she built the home, but that asset never belongs to them. The homeowner is restricted in planting anything in the swale, which is also owned by the city, but has the responsibility to maintain it. The sidewalks and swales have become an irritant to many in the community, especially those saddled with repairs which a city contractor damaged during the STRP project.
The irony that a city councilor could have a brand new sidewalk constructed in front of his or her home as part of an ongoing grant–funded project that has lifetime maintenance done by the city, while an elderly person on a fixed income who lives on the opposite side of the street could be cited for necessary repairs by Code Compliance just does not seem fair to me.
About 30-35% of the sidewalks within the city are the responsibility of the city, therefore establishing two separate classes of citizens. It is time the city took on total sidewalk responsibility since, after all, they are not the property of the homeowner.
Challenges like these, as well as solutions which can be arrived at by employing a reasoned and sensible dialogue, are just a few of those that will face our future leaders after this election.
Whether it be water quality issues, challenges concerning out of control vacation rentals or the simple responsibility regarding sidewalks, these are areas where we can all come together to demonstrate that we can, in fact, govern in a productive and civil fashion.
The answer does not lie in painting scarlet letters that seek to identify violators of the peace and tranquility in a neighborhood, since this might well result in unintended consequences for innocent members of that neighborhood. The forcing of elderly on fixed incomes from homes due to an unfair financial punishment on them for the failure of a public way is wrong. The collective responsibility rests solely on us as a community whose destiny we sought to control when we voted to incorporate as a city over two decades ago.