Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Attend Your Neighborhood Information Meetings




Donna Fiala

It’s interesting to read all the ads for Neighborhood Information Meetings (NIM) now that the winter residents have headed up north, and there are fewer people here to attend or to object. Hmmm – wonder if that is by design? It didn’t work recently, even though so many residents have gone back home. I went to a NIM that scheduled itself into a very small library meeting room, but people came out by the droves, filled the room to a packed standing room, then overflowed into another adjacent room, and then overflowed into the foyer of the building. I wasn’t even aware there were so many people left in town, but they were there, and mad! I see many more coming up. Those of us who are left, please check these NIM announcements in the paper and plan to be there if they pertain to your location. The developers are counting on you not watching or knowing of their meetings. Tell your neighbors, tell your friends, but make sure these developments have a full view of all who will be affected. You may just save your neighborhood!

NIM announcements are available on the Collier County website calendar of events at: You can also sign up to receive emails for a variety of topics at:

• The gasoline prices have been so low, and it felt so good, but as we can see, they seem to be climbing back up and all prices seem to be about the same except for the premium and higher grades of fuel. There is quite a difference in that price.

• Riding around Old Naples and seeing new homes being built in the city of Naples, as well as those in Isles of Collier Preserve and Naples Reserve, the architectural style seems to be swinging towards old Florida style homes and tending to veer away from Mediterranean and Tuscan. Personally, I like the warm and inviting look of the newer homes being built. They say the people inside are friendly.

*You’ve gotta hand it to that core group of pickleball players right here in Collier County, mainly: Jim Ludwig, Carol Caefer, Terry Graham and Chris Evon – the kingpins of ideas and forward thinking. Their group started playing at East Naples Community Park, and believe me, it was a neglected, run-down park. But they stuck in there, seeing the potential of what it could be when all of the deteriorated equipment was removed and new, updated courts would be installed instead. More and more of their friends and other players came to the park, and the ideas grew and grew! They were so innovative in their thinking, and their enthusiasm was contagious. Soon they had others coming from all over the county to play, and then from surrounding counties. Together they had a dream to become the Pickleball Capital of the USA, and they pushed forward to give birth to the idea of the first U.S. Open Pickleball Championship games ever! And OH! – were they successful! It is amazing what you can do when everyone is pulling in the same direction! Forty- eight new pickleball courts were created, and many with the new Deco Turf, which is the envy of other area parks. They registered players from 37 states and eight countries! ! People came by the thousands. The entire event was choreographed for parking, shuttling, music to enjoy while eating or relaxing, tents that held hundreds, bleachers, etc. Thank heavens for all the volunteers! ! We could never have accomplished as much without them. One thing the attendees commented on was the fact that everyone was at one single park and not separated by distance, which made it all the more special to play in the same area. They feel that playing at one park was one reason it was so successful. Most promised, as they left, that next year would be even larger with more players and more attendance. We in the county realize we have a lot of work to do to expand in order to accommodate a larger crowd for next year and the following year. CBS Sports was there, as was the Pickleball Channel (I didn’t even realize there was one, but they had a drone there filming), and Sports Illustrated, NBC, Coastal Breeze News, Naples Daily News, and much more. I love the pictures the drone took. One vendor who brought hats to sell touting this first of a kind event ran out of hats on the first day before the event was officially open, and after that had nothing left to sell! It was mind-boggling! Hopefully you got there for the excitement.

• Lely High School asked me to be a judge for their Entrepreneurial Program presentation, as they prepare to compete with other schools. Each group presented their new invention, how they came up with the idea, how they would manufacture it, market it, the financials, etc. What a great program they had! It was wonderful to see what these young people could create.

* The East Naples Civic Association luncheon at Hamilton Harbor on May 19th at 11:30 AM will feature guest speakers Fred Pezeshkan and Jerry Starkey, who will talk about their proposed idea for the Gateway Triangle. Please call 239-434-1967 for reservations, which are a must in order to arrange for lunches. All members and guests are welcome.

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