Friday, January 28, 2022




Donna Fiala

It was wonderful to get the message from Barry Gerenstein of VeronaWalk that their community had won the prestigious “Communities of Excellence” award in multiple categories. Three-thousand communities entered the competition this year. Property Manager Lynn Ross was named “Property Manager of the Year.” What an honor to be chosen over 3,000 other property managers — although I’m guessing that each entry also contained a property manager nomination in that 3,000 figure. VeronaWalk was awarded the “Energy Efficiency” award, the “Safety and Security Initiatives” award and the “Community of the Year” award!

Gerenstein, a resident and member of the “Team of the Year” — VeronaWalk Safety Committee and the CERT Response Team — and cheerleader extraordinaire for VeronaWalk, went to Orlando with the Ross to accept their numerous awards. Congratulations to all the residents of VeronaWalk! I’m sure you are very proud of your community, and I am particularly proud that you are in my district!

• Along with the huge road improvement project at 951/41, there is a swale maintenance program taking place simultaneously this year on Capri Boulevard from address 219 to 300, Riverwood Road, Sandy Lane, Twin Palms Drive, Pine Street, Porter Street and Manatee Road from Collier Boulevard to Beverly Drive. Swales completed are Henderson Drive, Derhenson Drive, Sonderhen Drive, Sonderhen Circle and Creek Circle.

• First, let me explain briefly that an MSBU is a way for a community to collect money through the county on their own tax bill to pay for a much needed but expensive project. All owners are taxed, but NO ONE OUTSIDE OF THE MSBU DISTRICT LINES ARE EVER TAXED. In other words, no taxpayers outside of the MSBU are responsible to pay the bill. If they somehow default, the county has a lien on their property, and can sell it to recover the remainder of the loan.

• Sadly, the intensity of the fight between one portion of LaPeninsula (on Isles of Capri) against the other continues to rage on. There is no compromise that is acceptable to enable people to work out an amicable solution, no way to come together to save face, and I personally feel that it will be difficult for that community to come together again. The facts have been misconstrued on both sides. The information given from one side to the other has been embellished upon, neglected to be given, or word smithed to say something completely different than the original information. It’s things like this that destroy communities. Many never recover, and the word DOES get out. Some people seem to actually be obsessed about winning at all costs. I’ve always been able to bring communities together, open a door to negotiation, and find a conclusion that all can live with — but not in this case.

• The good thing is that Isles of Capri, as a whole, doesn’t seem to be affected by it. There are still the same wonderful people who enjoy each other’s company, participate in pot-lucks, fish together, go to church together and share information community-wide through their “CoconutTele” e-mail network (thanks so much to Ann Hall and all the participating residents) plus pictures posted by Jim Hughes, who keeps everyone in the know (he has the most wonderful pictures of nature, birds, flowers, fish, people, sewers being installed, etc.) as well as other information like a dog missing or a floating device found. These are the traits of a beautiful community working together for the benefit of all. I like to end a subject on a positive note.

• Recently, I spent part of a day in Everglades City with a friend of mine, Marya Repko, a historian who writes about the history of our area. Later, we were joined by Patty Huff, who writes “The Mullet Rapper.” We took a tour of Chokoloskee and the Smallwood Store. I remember the Smallwood Store way back when I moved here 40 years ago! It doesn’t look much different now. We also toured through the Museum of the Everglades and City Hall. Marya suggested I take a tour of the The Fakahatchee Strand Swamp, the largest Strand Swamp in the world encompassing approximately 100 square miles, (which I proceeded to do at another time) and right at our doorstep! It ends at the Marco Airport and begins at I-75.

• I hope every Mom had a wonderful Mother’s Day and that your kids showered you with love!

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