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City Council

Message from the Mayor

MayorWelcome to the official website for the City of Punta Gorda. As Mayor, I welcome you to explore all the City has to offer. Although considered a “small” city (population 17,566) by some standards, Punta Gorda is a vibrant waterfront community, unique in character and history and one of the most desirable places to live, work and visit.

Punta Gorda is a pristine waterfront community that sits on Charlotte Harbor, which serves as a beautiful backdrop for our City. Recently, we were named a finalist in the Rand McNally Best of the Road Contest – “Most Beautiful” Category. Punta Gorda’s waterfront access serves as a draw for all types of boaters. Laishley Park Municipal Marina and other private marinas are here to serve sail boaters, cruisers, sport fishermen, kayakers and paddle boarders. The City has recently constructed the Gilchrist Landing Boat Basin, complete with a series of floating docks and a ramp built for non-motorized watercraft. One unique feature of the City is that many of the residential areas are a part of the City’s canal maintenance district, which provides repair and replacement on over 110 miles of seawalls.

Preserving Punta Gorda’s rich history is a top priority. The City celebrated its 125th Anniversary last December (Punta Gorda was incorporated on December 7, 1887). Events included a chess tournament, held in honor of developer Colonel Isaac Trabue who began the city as “Trabue” back in 1882. He was an avid chess player who held annual chess tournaments; it is documented that he used proceeds from his local pineapple farm to buy gold medals to present to the champions. The National Register Historic District Overlay District was established to help protect historic structures and promote public awareness. The City also features History Park, where historic structures are preserved for generations to come. Punta Gorda’s Historic Mural Society is very active, using many building facades to depict Punta Gorda in years past.

One might ask “Why is Punta Gorda one of the most desirable places to live, work and visit?” The answer is because our City is dedicated to serving its citizens and visitors, and maintaining a high quality of life. This customer service commitment starts at the top and filters down through all of our 261 employees.

Over the past year, the City Manager along with the City Council provided leadership in implementing the following citywide programs:

  • Advanced Life Support in all 3 City fire stations, a major upgrade from previous basic life support services which has already contributed to saving lives
  • Completion of major components in the Punta Gorda Pathways pedestrian amenity system
  • Improving downtown flooding systems by working with FEMA to fund additional improvements
  • Annexation of residential parcels and commercial corridors, including initial steps for voluntary annexation of the LOOP property in the southern end of the City
  • Moving forward with a Reverse Osmosis Water Treatment Plant and Groundwater project to supplement the existing reservoir system

Not only does the City have dedicated employees, but the community’s civic involvement is truly remarkable. Our public safety volunteers donate their time seven days a week, including major holidays, to provide City service delivery and learning opportunities for residents and local youth. Non-profit organizations provide the upkeep for the City’s Nature Park, Welcome Beach and community garden as well as offer public educational seminars for citizens. In 2013, these volunteers contributed upwards of 40,000 hours to our community.

Punta Gorda is a safe place to live, work and visit. When compared to municipalities throughout Florida with a population between 15,000 and 20,000, Punta Gorda achieved the 2nd lowest crime rate for the 4th consecutive year. This past year the Punta Gorda Police Department attained Excelsior Status through the Commission for Florida Law Enforcement Accreditation. The Department was also named 2013 Pinnacle Business of the Year by the Punta Gorda Chamber of Commerce, the only police department in the state to receive that type of award. The Punta Gorda Fire Department also serves citizens in many unique ways. More than 900 residential smoke detectors were serviced or installed this year and approximately 100 individuals participated in the Department’s free CPR/AED training. In 2013, the City achieved an Insurance Services Office (ISO) rating of Public Protection Classification Class 3, placing it in the top 6% nationally and allowing for property owners to realize a savings in insurance premiums.

Tourists are drawn to Punta Gorda’s year-round sunshine. This allows visitors to relax or enjoy a multitude of activities, specifically including boating, cycling, golf, tennis, pickleball and bird watching. The City is in close proximity to the Punta Gorda Airport (PGD) which provides convenient air travel access. The airport has experienced tremendous growth over the last several years, increasing the number of destinations to 21 and has future plans for terminal and car rental facilities expansion.

Punta Gorda is full of unique shops, restaurants, art galleries, and accommodations, all accessible by pedestrian friendly pathways. A variety of shopping experiences can be found here, including historic Fishermen’s Village, Sullivan Street Shops, Downtown Gallery Walk, along with award winning vendors at our two weekly farmer’s markets. Punta Gorda Pathways consists of 18 miles of beautifully landscaped and pet friendly trails which traverse through our 20 parks, and allow residents and visitors to explore the City by bicycle or on foot. A free bicycle loaner program with pick up locations throughout the City is solely supported by local businesses and community organizations. These bright yellow cruisers are a great way to go sightseeing around town or can be used to grab a bite at one of our local eateries.

Punta Gorda’s catch phrase “It’s Happening on the Harbor” reflects our reputation as a festival city. The City is home to more than 34 annual events featuring music, arts and crafts, food and drink, car shows, sporting activities, fishing tournaments, parades and holiday celebrations. Local musicians gather in scenic Gilchrist Park every Thursday for an acoustic collaboration known as the “Guitar Army”, drawing hundreds of locals and visitors. Please visit the City’s festivals webpage for a list of all of the exciting events held around town.

Whether you choose to live, work or visit Punta Gorda, the City Council, residents and employees invite you to share in the beauty, charm and excitement of our City.

Rachel Keesling
Mayor


City Hall
326 West Marion Ave.
Punta Gorda, FL. 33950
Tel. (941) 575-3369
Fax. (941) 575-3365
pgclerk@ci.punta-gorda.fl.us