Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Marco Lost a True Friend




Donna Fiala

Sadly we have lost a true friend to Marco Island and to the San Marco Catholic Church, and to all the people who loved Dick Shanahan. Somehow we felt he would live on and on. We send our deepest sympathy to his loving and adoring wife, Debra. He has probably already found Monte Lazarus up there. They are looking down at us telling us all is well.

As mentioned previously, there are new owners of the Naples Outlet Mall on Collier Blvd. During lunch with one of them, the gentleman described what they were considering for the first phase. One of the things I liked best about our conversation was that he said his brother owned a home on Marco Island and his father owned a home in Lely Resort. Although their business is on the other side of the state, they know this area too and can stay in tune with our resident’s wishes. If you build what the people want, they will come! It always amazes me that some shop owners build what they think we want and when their sales never climb they think something is wrong with us. This developer has agreed to speak to a few groups while here in November, and wants to listen to what the audience is looking for in terms of new stores.

The meetings will be held: Thursday, Nov. 17th at 7:30AM, the Marco Island Kiwanis Club at Stonewall’s Restaurant at 551 S. Collier Blvd. Breakfast $12 at the door. Nov. 17th at 11:30AM for the East Naples Civic Association luncheon at Hamilton Harbor Yacht Club. Lunch price $22 at the door, but reservations are a must, 239-434-1967. Finally, the E.N. Kiwanis Club will meet on Friday, Nov. 18th at 7:30AM at the IHOP on Davis Blvd. $10 for breakfast. You are welcome to attend any of these functions and will be greeted with enthusiasm. The ENCA luncheon is well attended, so you’ll want to make your reservations early.

Jack Wert, the director of tourism for Naples, Marco Island and Everglades City, spoke at the Marco Kiwanis meeting this past week and gave a spirited and exciting speech about tourism in Collier County and how those tourist dollars spent here in Collier reduce our own taxes. The tourism department is also encouraging a new tourism sport: scuba diving in the newly built reef. Actually there are 36 reefs that have been built from Marco Island to Pelican Bay, and they are growing quickly, fish are coming back, and more and more boaters, fisherman and now scuba divers are investigating this exciting new area.

Speaking of sports, pickleball is gearing up already for next year’s U. S. Pickleball Open. The group sent out invitations to all the pickleball groups and players on their lists, and 12 days later they had already received 1001 reservations to play. Four days later they were up to 1100 players! They will have to cut off any further reservations shortly. CBS Sports will again be televising this marvelous sport, and so will the Pickleball Channel! The County Parks Department is working tirelessly to make additional provisions at the East Naples Community Park, including a canvas covering for the tournament courts, more bathrooms, more parking, etc., and Minto (Isles of Collier Preserve) will again be the major sponsor. Hopefully “Pickleball For All” will be appointing a volunteer coordinator soon for people to sign up to volunteer. Last year 250 volunteers helped to make this first U.S. Open in the USA, the resounding success it was. Without those volunteers we would have been in a pickle…a little play on words there.

This past week I went on an expedition to see what the Marco beaches look like now, especially Tigertail Beach. First let me remind you, these are not Collier County Government owned beaches. They are for the public, but overseen by the Army Corps of Engineers for permitting for anything we might want to do with regards to sand. They also belong to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection who monitors them closely and must approve any grading or sand deposits. The Fish & Wildlife is always watching closely as well. The county keeps the beaches racked, collects trash (which we hope people will deposit in the bird-safe trash cans the county provides) and works with the permitting agencies to keep sand on our beaches, boating passes open, and anything else the “feet on the ground” would need to do for our citizens and visitors.

Gary McAlpin, director of the county’s Coastal Management, explained why the runnells were filled with water, but our hands are really tied until we can get approval from the permitting agencies, including federal, state and environmental, to begin to fix the problems, and that will probably take another year before they come through. Ruth McCann and Nancy Olsen also came with us to observe and learn. When we got to Tigertail Beach (but beach is not what it was – it was more of a mud mess!) I couldn’t believe how bad it looked and realized no one could actually enjoy that area. Gary McAlpin explained that we have applied to the Army Corps for a permit to try to fix some of the problems and also another permit with FDEP to help with the solution, but those permits can easily take a year or more to get back to us. It was just awful and smelled bad, and we all just shook our heads in dismay, knowing there was absolutely nothing we could do to fix it. Even as we rode along Sand Dollar Island you could see the birds couldn’t use Tigertail and only very little space on Sand Dollar Island. This will be a tough year for our tourists and visitors. The beaches will feel much more crowded without the overflow visitors being able to be absorbed by Tigertail. I wish we had better news.

The Hobby Lobby is open and what a wonderful place it is! It seems they have everything you could ever want to decorate for the holidays and sew and decorate your home and find gifts for friends and family and, well, just everything! I was told by one of the store employees that it is twice as large as the Hobby Lobby in the north end of the county.

And, by the way, people keep asking me what that new building will be in front of the Walmart on 951 on the way to Marco. I have been told that it will be a mattress retail store.

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