Thursday, December 9, 2021

Cars, Planes, & Parks

Coastal Comments


Many of you read about, and attended, the Marco Island Kiwanis Club’s 18th Annual Car Show, and it looked like it was the most attended Car Show yet! Some of those cars were models I had never seen or heard of before, and others were a look back into history! It looks like it was the best attended Kiwanis Car Show yet. Everyone was thrilled, including the owners! Such beauty was a sight to behold. Some of the cars I’d never seen or even HEARD of before! I hope you didn’t miss it. Next year, the car show will be held in a different place, because on this site something will be built, and the site at Veteran’s Park we’ve used will now have construction on it. We don’t have many places left before we have to go Off-Island for our wonderful benefits. That will truly be a sad day.

*Has anyone ever heard of Naples Airlines? How about PGA Airlines? The airline started out as Provincetown Boston Airline, and then added Naples Airlines, and then the owner renamed it PBA, which included both airlines and simply became PBA. PBA turned into the largest commuter airline in the world, eventually flying to 29 cities in the Florida area, and eight cities in New England. I worked there 13 years, and the employees became family to each other. Eventually, after 25 years, they closed, but it seems many of the employees still live here and work here in different capacities, such as airline mechanics and pilots. Every so often I run into another employee, and it almost feels like I’ve found my old family. That happened again recently at Stan’s Idle Hour in Goodland, and this guy is now a pilot for another airline. His wife recognized me and we had a lively conversation. The East Naples Kiwanis Club was holding a fundraiser at Stans. Steve, Stan’s son, always lends help in some way or another if he can. Steve and Trish carry on Stan’s legacy so beautifully. The place was CROWDED! I don’t know if I’ve ever seen it that crowded. And everyone had a terrific time while listening to a great band! There were families everywhere, and friends meeting there, or maybe just meeting for the first time there. Each Sunday, they have a band—this is where Ben Allen was a regular—that is spectacular. People dancing, eating, enjoying. With all this COVID stuff and the loneliness it has created in some, this is the perfect place to be to forget your worries and the situation. Yes, some even bring their dogs on a leash, and some ride their motorcycles there. You can’t stay lonely when you are at Stan’s! Thanks for all you do for the community, Steve! You are truly appreciated.

*I met the other day for lunch with our new Commissioner, Rick LoCastro, and we had such a nice conversation. We plan on meeting every so often just to talk and get to know each other. I told him about the very poor condition of the parks in the East Naples area, where there is a huge concentration of children who have no place to go to play if not the parks. There are three parks in the East Naples area that should support six Elementary Schools, two middle schools and one High School, but that is because many high school youths attend Golden Gate High or Naples High. The three parks that should accommodate the youngsters have absolutely NO PLACE for the kids to go inside when it’s lightning, when it’s cold or rainy, or for the kids to learn games or crafts, etc. I tried for years to get the county to build even just one park like the others they have in the rest of the county, but they always said they had no money, yet they build magnificent parks throughout the rest of the county. 

You know those impact fees collected for parks? East Naples has the greatest amount of building, so they collect the most impact fees, YET they won’t even fix the bathrooms at East Naples Community Park—the PICKLEBALL PARK—who puts millions into the parks purse in the last five years, yet they won’t even upgrade the bathrooms! What other park drops millions into the coffers and doesn’t have decent bathrooms for the children, the players, or the public? BUT they are now building another magnificent $90 million park in Golden Gate Estates, and we don’t even have a decent flushing toilet. BUT our impact fees go to THAT park. And where in the heck do the pickleball dollars go? Why not go to see it for yourselves? It makes your stomach turn, the neglect we receive from Parks, and our kids play in the dirt or at street corners! 

The three parks are East Naples Community Park, have no inside games—they just tore down the building in E.N. Park to build something, but not much of anything for the kids, from what I understand—Sugden Park, and Eagle Lakes Park. If you speak to anyone at parks, they’ll give you a lot of lip service, and of course you don’t have a reply because you can’t see the books or compare it to the other parks at that time. I’d suggest on a day you have nothing to do, go to a few of the county parks, see how they are run, and what they have for the kid inside and out, and then go to the East Naples Parks! Yes, after years of begging, we finally got an aquatic center at the Eagle Lakes Park, but if you go unannounced to see the indoor playrooms, you can’t get in because the building is always locked. Why you ask? I asked, and the person said “because there is nothing to play within there.” I pleaded and pleaded with the county manager Leo Ochs, but it was never changed and still hasn’t to this day. I bet our new commissioner might have more pull! Let’s watch and see. 

Over these last 20 years, it has been a struggle to get anything like the other parks. And speaking of recycling centers… or maybe we haven’t mentioned that yet. The East Naples recycling center is the old City of Naples dump which is now used for us to recycle in. The employees there are ever so nice, in such lousy working conditions, but they have a smile on their face anyway. All these years, we’ve had to fight for every little morsel we receive, while we see others walking away with the prize. I really want to see Commissioner LoCastro change things. God knows I tried so hard, but somethings they would not budge on. He might be more forceful with a voice that just might be heard! We all hope this will work because we’ve always been the recipient of all the affordable housing—the City of Naples won’t have any in their area, they always dump it “near to the city, where they might own property,” so it won’t be in the city, where they would also have the expense of taking care of the issues that arise. I noticed our new commissioner has been appointed to be the Chair of the Affordable Housing Committee. Maybe HE can convince them to spread it out more equitably. They need some desperately in Immokalee to replace those hovels that people are forced to live in, or nearer the job centers like hotels—we don’t have big hotels in East Naples, yet they build more and more affordable housing in East Naples. RICK, we need you to use your voice and make that change!

*Sorry Folks, I’ve been wanting to say those things for so long, but when I was working there, I couldn’t throw them under the bus, but now…? Oh yeah.



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