Steve “Stef” Stefanides
About two weeks ago, the Marco Island City Council undertook some pretty important business, whose significance is unfortunately overlooked for the most part.
On January 23rd the newly elected four councilors selected their choices for service on a number of advisory committees to coincide with their 4-year terms on council. Those individuals are not compensated for the work they do, but instead volunteer their time for the betterment of the community.
I’m not sure anyone has said it better than former City Council Chairman Bob Brown when I asked him to comment on the importance of the city’s advisory boards. “Many of these committees do the heavy lifting for some pretty weighty issues confronting the community,” said Brown in an article about the process of appointing board members.
Those boards deal with everything from straws on the beach to the flora and fauna we find on and around our little paradise. They also deal with even more weighty issues such as zoning, our parks and the condition of the waters around the island.
The economic wellbeing of our community is and can be impacted both in a positive and negative way by these individuals. All of this depends upon the wisdom they impart to our councilors as they struggle with some of their decisions.
Their work does not just get done during their meetings once a month, but requires hours of research and study as they look at the issues before them. Most of their work is accomplished outside the community room where they meet. The dollar value of those efforts can never be accurately calculated in regards to the significance of their contributions to the island.
Continuity and experience are important factors as you look at the make-up of these boards, especially given the mounting challenges facing council and the community itself. The most recent election saw some of those committees undergo some significant changes. The loss of individuals such as Jack Patterson, the “Dean” of the Planning Board, in addition to Dr. William Trotter with his depth of planning knowledge will require those that replace them to come up to speed rather quickly on some relatively complicated and thorny issues.
When councilors in January of 2013 changed the term of the appointee to that of his appointing council member they did so to run concurrently with the councilor’s term of office. Councilors recognized at the time the importance of not just making choices of individuals who would rubber stamp issues to meet the political agenda of the councilor which appointed them. Instead they believed the appointee should be one of intellect, integrity and independence in all the dealings before them.
Islanders should be pleased that we have followed that intent throughout our time since incorporation. That we came to realize that it is ok to have differing opinions based upon facts and research, rather than emotion or childish whims.
The work done by committees such as Beautification, Waterways, Beach, Audit, Parks and Recreation, and Planning has been some of the best done in Florida. Our island is reflective of the wonderful work done by those individuals who gave of their time and talent to make this a better community.
As citizens we should also take the time to thank those that have stepped up to the challenges of service to our community, while continuing that proud commitment to excellence that has been the hallmark of service on these advisory boards.
Steve Stefanides, well-known by his nickname “Stef,” is an experienced award-winning reporter of local civic and public interest news. Stef’s More Straight Talk column (and its predecessor, Straight Talk), on a variety of subjects, is a favorite of readers who trust him to bring them the facts. A Marco Island resident, Stef contributes to the community in many ways, having served on a number of city committees, charitable groups, boards and local organizations. Contact him by email at Stef@coastalbreezenews.com