Thursday, January 20, 2022

Changes at East Lakes Community Park

Coastal Comments

There is so much going on that I don’t know where to begin and where to stop, and hold the rest over until the next issue.

Everyone knows about the pool that was just built at Eagle Lakes Community Park, and I think everyone who knows has stopped by to at last look if not swim or see the rest of that little park. I was surprised to learn that many of the people from the area did not even know the park was there and in their own neighborhood! Right now, outside of that wonderful swimming pool, the only thing kids can do at that park is play soccer, which is nice, but only two teams at a time and it’s closed for the summer. Oh, YES! The soccer field stayed open this summer because they are now planning to install a year-round artificial grass field, and soon you will see it become a reality so the soccer teams will be able to play year ‘round! The Mexi-soccer group that plays there is HUGE, with all ages and families playing! I’m so thankful the county is addressing these needs in such an expeditious manner. Next: There are really no indoor facilities for craft classes or inside games or singing groups, or dance classes, etc. I believe, after talking to the administrator for that department, Steve Carnel, that things are about to change in that area as well! I know that doesn’t happen quickly, but they are working on preparing the design work to add an extension to the building which will contain a few classrooms, and who knows? We might even have an indoor basketball court! For right now at least, I’m thankful they are focusing on bringing the outside, IN. Things are happening at the water park in general, so I’ll mention a few. I only have the figures through August, but they dropped significantly. What is amazing is that in the Town Hall Meeting we held a couple years ago to plan the pool, one retired lady raised her hand, stood up and said “I think it’s great that you are giving the kids something to do, but what about us seniors?” I don’t think our staff, and certainly not me, ever even thought about the seniors because we thought all developments had pools! I wish I could find that lady so I could thank her. The senior exercise classes have been as busy, if not busier, now that school is in session, than we could ever imagine.

The numbers dropped way down for August, and I think that is because half of August the kids were available to swim and the other half the kids were back in school, or that a fee was then charged, and even though it is $1.50, that’s a lot for a family of four or even two kids when they had to buy school supplies (most people donate money for school supplies to Immokalee, but these East Naples kids don’t seem to receive that wonderful gift), or to buy food, or pay rent, or whatever they need, but it was terrific for them during the summer. I understand one group on Marco Island donated shoes to Manatee Schools. That is so special. East Naples Merchants Association picked Manatee school to help, but could only help one grade at a time… a wonderful gesture! (Kind of like the lady who could only give a quarter in the church collection basket, but it meant more to the pastor than any other donation.) Thanks again East Naples Merchants Association. Terri Ballo from the Northside Naples Kiwanis Club called and wants to meet with me and with Barry Williams to offer assistance for underprivileged children with pool entry tickets. What a beautiful gesture! I know Terry cannot even see this column because she lives way up north, but if you know her, mention her and her club’s generosity. If you somewhat recognize the name, she used to live on Marco Island and even was a city council member years back. She is a lovely lady always ready and able to help others! Marco Island Kiwanis Club also picked out Manatee Elementary to donate gifts for Christmas. Way to go, Marco Kiwanis! For anyone curious, we have six Title One elementary schools, two Title One middle schools, and one high school that all could use some assistance. By the way, Manatee School has risen to an A-SCHOOL! The teachers work long and hard with these children, and it shows! If you’d like, I’d be happy to find out how the other schools score. In fact, I’m so curious I’ll ask and write it in the next newsletter.

And speaking of the Marco Island Kiwanis Club, they are having their Annual Installation Dinner on October 27, which will be held at the marvelous Hideaway Beach Club. Everybody scrambles to attend that dinner, which is always luscious and lots of fun!

I was told that the Aquatic Center, along with the other county swimming pools, needs lifeguards desperately! They can’t open a pool without one lifeguard on duty, and in some cases two lifeguards. If any of you are looking for a part time job, they would love to have you call the Parks Department at 239-252-8371. If you call my office (Mike at 239-252-8601) he can assist in connecting you right to that department.

Next week a lot about development and about Bayshore and the Community Housing Plan. It ought to be interesting.

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