Commissioner LoCastro update February 13

We hope you have been enjoying The Commissioner’s Report!  There are over 14,500 subscribers…and still growing!  Great positive feedback has been received…thank you!!  We will continue to keep you informed and work diligently towards enhancing the quality of life in District 1 and all of Collier County. Thank you for the opportunity to serve YOU…it’s an honor!!







Update on the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act which provides funds to State, & Local governments to offset impacts of COVID:  last June, Governor DeSantis announced a plan to distribute $1.3 billion in CARES funds to Counties, including $67 million to Collier County. As of February 1, 2021, approximately $32 million has been paid throughout our County and approximately $13.5 million is in the process to be paid (see below chart for how the money has been distributed so far). If you have a qualifying need… please contact the County for details to formally apply for funds by calling (239) 252-CARE (2273).




DOH-Collier is in the process of transitioning to the ShareCare site [the MyVaccine system]. This includes training staff and meeting with local and State Emergency Management. Residents are able to call the toll-free number, 866-201-4885, to sign up for the waitlist. They are working with Collier County  Emergency Management (EM) and State Emergency Management to secure that list to schedule clients for the vaccine. Furthermore, they continue to work with our community partners, such as Collier County EMS/Fire, EM, local hospitals, municipalities, and outreach groups to continue to schedule those who are 65+ and healthcare personnel with direct patient contact.




The DOH call center will remain open Monday – Sunday from 9:00am to 5:00pm.  Contact numbers:  (239) 252-6220 or (239) 252-8200    Monitor the following websites:




FEBRUARY 9, 2021



  • Heritage Bay Planned Unit Development Commissioners agreed with the County Planning Commission and unanimously approved amending an ordinance allowing property owners to gate a private road (Limestone Trail between Belaire Bay & Quarry Drive). Gates will allow residents of Quarry and Heritage Bay to utilize their privately owned and maintained road for residents only.
  • Big Cypress Basin Boundary Delineation Study Commissioners voted unanimously to reject a proposal to expand Big Cypress Basin Boundary. We agree with the spirit of the idea… but have significant concerns with the moving parts, leadership oversight, and several governance issues. We currently disapprove of the expansion unless certain items are made clear and we are convinced this is in the BEST interest of Collier County. We don’t feel that way right now… me especially.
  • County Manager Recruitment Hiring a new County Manager moved forward today. Out of the almost 40 applicants, Commissioners each privately came up with a short list. When those lists were compared today, there were 5 candidates who were common to us all. We unanimously decided to interview those top 5 candidates each one on one. We will then invite all 5 to a Commissioner meeting in March to speak at the podium in public. It was obvious all Commissioners felt similarly about the top applicants and what we are looking for… 3 of the 5 are currently in Collier County leadership positions… 2 are outsiders. We are on schedule to zero in on the strongest candidate and will compare notes at our next meeting on our private interviews with each candidate.
  • DAS Advisory Board Appointment The Advisory Board to Domestic Animal Services (DAS) has 7 positions… 6 were currently filled. During their meeting last month, which I attended, the 6 current members tied 3-3 on the two candidates competing for the one vacancy. Procedure required it be sent to Commissioners for our decision. For a few days, Commissioners heard from both candidates and supporters through discussions and emails. At the BCC meeting, the Commissioners unanimously picked Kelly Hyland, a District 1 citizen, who’s been very involved in animal welfare, regularly attends DAS meetings, and has been personally responsible for many improvements in Animal Welfare in our County. She will be a phenomenal addition to the other 6 board members working to make DAS even better.





Spent an afternoon in briefings with our team running our Northeast Recycling Drop-Off Center (825 39th Ave NE, Naples). This is our largest County center at 29,000 sq ft on 14 acres. It assists 11,000+ customers and processes over 350,000 lbs. of household hazardous waste and recyclable materials. Great meeting today discussing all we do at this location… but also, most importantly, how we can work to improve recycling across all of Collier County… more new initiatives coming!





Big Corkscrew Island Regional Park (825 39th Ave NE, Naples) is under construction & opens THIS SUMMER! The 150 acre park will be AMAZING with amenities including:


Community Center                 Walking Paths
Aquatic Center                        Dog Park
Event Lawn w/ Stage              6 Multipurpose Fields
Concession Pavilions             4 Baseball Fields
Fitness Center                        2 Basketball Courts
Kayak/Canoe Launch             2 Tennis Courts
Playgrounds                           2 Pickle Courts


I was impressed with the discussion and tour of the construction site… and will work with our team to ensure we deliver this project on time and on/under budget! Get ready this summer to bring your family to this amazing Park that has it all!





Water is THE KEY component to our community and environment. I spent the afternoon with team members from our Southwest Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) and Lisa Koehler, Big Cypress Basin Administrator, visiting THREE major pump stations in District 1 located in the Picayune Strand State Forest which are some of the largest in our state.


I received quite an education on the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (authorized by Congress in 2000) which provides the framework to restore, preserve, and protect our South Florida ecosystem. The THREE pump stations direct freshwater to drain wetlands and maintain current flood protection for Collier County. They also provide habitat restoration to control outflow and mimic historic water flows to protect our wetlands and wildlife. A soon to be improved levee will also provide flood protection for existing agriculture and residential areas, as well. Also, learned about manatee mitigation features that provide additional warm water areas to help the species flourish. There are many behind the scenes people and projects at work in District 1 and throughout our County that help preserve our environment, control water flow, and keep our community and ecosystem healthy. Understanding how these pumps, infrastructure, and professionals work to accomplish that is critical to any public servant.



Many think these pumps are the cause or the fix for flooding, red tide, etc.… but as I learned today, that’s not true. The SFWMD controls water movement primarily to ensure healthy wetlands, control the flow of water which does assist in some flood mitigation—BUT most importantly, preserves our fragile ecosystem around the Everglades and beyond. Extremely educational day with professionals who do amazing work! Elected officials need to fully understand these efforts and where we can continue to improve. Proud knowing this critical pump system and team is in District 1! I will continue to keep water and our environment a TOP priority in our County and beyond… and continue to work closely with our teams to ensure we are doing EVERYTHING possible.








Honored to join my fellow American Legion members today to greet our American Legion National Commander Bill Oxford as he visited our Marco Island Post 404. Our local Post Commander, Lee Rubenstein, hosted him with a formation of our Post members at Veterans Community Park. National Commander Bill Oxford is traveling throughout Southwest Florida and made a stop here to meet our Post 404 members and view our amazing Veterans Memorial & Fountain. Also, thanks to Marco City Manager, Mike McNees, who joined our welcome party! We were able to share with the National Commander the multiple years our Post has hosted the Vietnam Wall replica here on Marco… and the upcoming plans to totally renovate & revitalize Veterans Park.




Another Townhall meeting…this time at Port of the Islands. There is plenty to do in this important part of District 1. We are in the final stages of tearing down a long abandoned and vandalized hotel (see photos below) we’re attacking upgrades needed at their Marina, and it was great to address a packed Community Center, answer questions, and let citizens know their community is a priority to their new District 1 County Commissioner! I plan to have many more Townhalls throughout District 1… and I’m very appreciative of all the communities who have reached out and have hosted me for Townhall meetings, Zoom video discussions, and live camera recordings.  It’s important for me to “bring the Commissioner to the people”!








Met with Jeannie Bates, Founder of PAWS, at their soon to be new location just off Pine Ridge Blvd. This incredible organization provides “assistance dogs“ to mostly military veterans… but also others in need. They recently acquired a new $6.3M building (formally Harley Davidson on Pine Ridge) paid in full by two generous donors! They now need $4M+ to renovate and turn it into a full-fledged training facility. This gigantic new location will double the capacity of dogs they train. Since their start in 2012, they’ve placed over 100 dogs (98% of those with military veterans). PAWS expects to cut the ribbon on this new location in January 2022!
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