The idea had been put forth by W. Roy Smith in 1942.
When he discussed with friends the formation of a tax-exempt organization for the purpose of raising money to fund capital improvements rather than raise the millage rate.
When Smith was elected mayor in 1946, the idea began taking shape. Town Council’s application the following year to the federal government to form a tax exempt organization for the purpose of accepting tax- deductible donations to fund the initiative to “Make Naples a Better Place to Live” was approved and The Naples Plan set in motion an unprecedented display of philanthropy from every community member for two solid decades, during which period most of the town’s “firsts”, were organized, established, and constructed.
The Naples Plan was extended through 1950. “Your gift will assure making Naples the most desirable place to live in the entire State” proclaimed Mayor Smith in 1947.
The first four projects the Plan funded were the construction of a community park, the building of groins to stabilize the existing beach and control erosion, the construction of new streets, and the implementation of a mosquito control program.
A 10.75-acre parcel on 8th Street South, opposite Town Hall, for a park was donated by Henry B. Watkins, Sr., Elisha Turner was contracted to build new streets and surface all streets with shell, and Naples Police Chief Cale Jones was tasked with fogging the most infested areas first to control mosquitoes before a referendum in 1950 created the six-square-mile Naples Mosquito Control District and funding became available.
It was during a business trip in 1936 that Walter Roy Smith decided to relocate to Naples from Wachula, Florida, where he had resided since 1914, working for the Standard Oil Company and farming. Roy Smith, as he became known, was born in Daleville, Alabama, on April 30, 1909. He graduated from the University of Florida in 1931. He opened Naples Grocery in 1936, the third business on Fifth Avenue South, and the Smith Furniture Company at that location in 1948, after which his business ventures expanded.
He served as Naples Town Manager from 1942-1943, serving simultaneously as Town Clerk. He served as Municipal Judge from 1946 until 1953, when the independent position of Municipal Judge was created, relieving the Mayor of dual duties.
W. Roy Smith served seven consecutive two-year mayoral terms in office. It was during the last year of his seventh term, 1959, that Naples’ charter was amended to allow the mayor to only serve two consecutive two-year terms.