Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Brechnitz Ready to Move Forward


Photo by Steve Stefanides | Erik Brechnitz will serve a second term as Chairman of the Marco Island City Council.

A bit of history occurred at the November 4th Marco Island City Council Meeting when Chairman Erik Brechnitz was re-elected for an unprecedented second consecutive term as the Chairman of the Marco Island City Council. This was the first time that a councilor has been chosen for that position two years in a row.

After the meeting, Brechnitz would say what an honor it was to be chosen once again to lead the seven-person board. Although it is a relatively ceremonial position, that person does tend to set the tone for how council goes about its business.

A resident of Marco since 1995, he brought with him considerable experience from his home roots in Decatur, Illinois. He sat on that council for 14 years, with four of those years as Mayor of that community.

During the election of 2018 he made the selection of a new city manager one of his top priorities and delivered on that promise in the summer of 2019.  Council would choose Michael McNees as the next City Manager of Marco Island, after a failed first attempt and the short tenure of Lee Niblock, who would leave in disgrace after pleading No Contest to First Degree Misdemeanor Battery charge.

Until that time the city was seen as being in flux since the departure of the former manager who became City Manager of Fort Myers Beach. Council was seen by many in the community as the source of the turmoil within city hall and the hiring challenges for his replacement.

Prior to being elected to the city council in November of 2018, Brechnitz was a member of the Marco Island Planning Board. There too, he was elected twice to the position of Board Chairman.

Since his arrival on the council, Brechnitz has been seen as a “calming” influence, while moving difficult issues along, such as creating an up-to-date Strategic Plan for the city.

Brechnitz sees at least three major issues that he hopes will become the focus of council over the next twelve months.

1.  All of the State of Florida leadership is working hard to insure we protect our delicate ecosystem and protect our environment. We are no different here on Marco Island. We want to insure the balance between nature and man is protected. The water that surrounds us is part of that challenge and we are dedicating the resources to insure we get the necessary data and answers to deal with this issue in a prudent and cost-effective manner. We should have a good handle on identifying any of the sources which may be impacting our waters in the next 4 to 6 months as we collect the data from our enhanced testing programs. This will allow us to create a cost-effective plan to deal with those challenges, rather than just a knee-jerk reaction that wastes taxpayers’ monies.

2.  We are working hard with all of our partners to make the build out of Veterans Community Park a reality. A balanced plan which maximizes this wonderful asset that belongs to the community. One of the ways I see to help facilitate this is the creation of a 501(C)3 nonprofit foundation for the city’s parks. This will enable us to reach out to a number of individuals and charities that have indicated a desire to help this project and others for our Parks. Shortly we will have the necessary documents in hand to demonstrate to those entities that we are have a solid plan with a great vision, therefore allowing us to move forward.

3. The recent development of the 2019 Strategic Plan will now allow us to work on the difficult task to update the Comprehensive Plan for the island. The work on the Strategic Plan for the next 15 years provides us with the necessary roadmap to see our future and what needs we will have. It is our job to now update our Comprehensive Plan to make that a reality.

If anything, he is a realist and realizes this will be a huge undertaking, but he is committed to work hard over the next 12 months to accomplish the goals he has laid out for himself.

“I’m not doing this just for me but as a lasting legacy for my three children and four grandchildren.”

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