Summer is already upon us, and we can sure tell! There are also many changes in our community appearance coming our way. One that will make everyone happy, whether they already have a home or are staying longer or even if they never leave! The real thorn in our side in the 951/41 area is that darned intersection of Triangle Boulevard near Outback Steakhouse and the large shopping center on the other side of that street. For years people have complained loudly whether it be the County or FDOT! But all those loud complaints and letters haven’t moved it forward……until now! They are finally actually working on that impossible road! Whoever designed it originally doesn’t appear to be a traffic engineer or an architect or a road and bridge guy. I don’t know how it ever passed all the ‘tests’, but since it was built and opened it has been a major problem! For those who don’t know what area, we have a major shopping center with major eating establishments on both sides, and shopping on both sides plus a take-out grab and go restaurants, Publix, Comcast and 3 new shopping facilities are also being built right now? And the entrance/exit for a huge community—the Lely Resort! Lely Resort has many large condo’s, single family homes, three golf courses, another restaurant, and two hotels, the Players Club and Spa, and how do you get onto U.S. 41 East from this multitude of facilities? There are three exits, but only one that handles all the major load of traffic from the shops and restaurants just described, and they all reduce to two lanes to depart, with a very wide short strip of wasted space of road between them and the traffic light on U.S. 41 East. Now remember, U.S. 41 East is a FEDERAL highway, so the county cannot just go forward and solve the problem! Those problems must go through the FDOT before a move can be made, and none of them even have any real knowledge of this area! We have an advocate in the FDOT, but she can only do what her superiors approve. It has been a very messy situation for many years, BUT I see the heavy road equipment has now located at that intersection. They have begun changing all the curbing, the roadbed, and the landscaping to improve this congested road to one that can handle many more cars! When our northern visitors come back, I am sure they will be happy, but I know all our fulltime people will heave a sigh of relief! I’ll keep an eye open for a grand opening ribbon cutting to celebrate and let you know.
*It was a great day for the Marco Island Executive Airport as they held their grand opening to the new and much improved Airport Terminal! It was so nice to see Justin Lobb there and his speech was perfect! He told of the need and the hoops that needed to be overcome to make major improvements. Yes, we’ve been through a lot with that airport, but we are finally in a much better place. Years back the biggest complaint was the need for more airplane hangars, but as that little airport grew and attracted more and much larger aircraft and more group business, it outgrew the little terminal. Andrew Bennett, Airport Authority Executive Manager, explained where we are today, and we hope to continue to grow in the future. While we sat there during the celebration the busy airport welcomed many aircraft large and small. The Lely high School JROTC Color Guard presented the Flag, and Sloan Wheeler (Eight Grade) from the Marco Island Charter Middle School sang a beautiful rendition of the National Anthem and we all said the Pledge of Allegiance. Leo Ochs, the County Manager (who is retiring in a few days) gave some introductory comments, and introduced the folks from the Civil Air Patrol, who’s hangar was destroyed by our last hurricane, and they explained how many people pulled together and worked together to completely rebuild the facility, and I will add it really looks beautiful. I helped work on this airport reconstruction initiative with many airport people, and so they called on me but just wanted to know that I used to work at the original facility for the PBA (Provincetown/Boston Airlines) in the 70s, handling charter aircraft from visitors coming to Marco Island for conventions and business to the Marco Island Marriott (as it was called back then) followed by remarks from Commissioner Penny Taylor. Lely High School Aviation Academy Director Alan Davis spoke, followed by councilman Jared Grifoni, and Commissioner Rick LoCastro. Then all the elected officials followed with the official ribbon cutting. The Lely High School Band ended the program with God Bless America, under the direction of Jason Jones.
*I ran into Dolores and Gene Seigel at Hideaway last week and just want to thank them for being so kind! They go out of their way to make other people happy. It makes a person feel so good.
And while there, Angel, the waiter, came over to each table to say goodbye as he is retiring. It is hard to find a nicer guy than Angel, but I’m sure glad Shirlee and I got to know him. Always on time, always friendly, always kind and respectful! What a guy!
*Not sure how many of you get up far enough on U.S. 41 East to visit The Naples Botanical Garden, but if you do, have you noticed construction trucks assembling and digging going on nearby? If you’re like me and everyone else, I always want to know what they’re building. So, I asked! It is the beginning of a Fifth Third Bank on the corner of U.S. 41 East and Bayshore Drive. I’ve asked around to find out if it will be a bigger bank or just a smaller drive and lobby, but so far no one seems to know the answer, but most think it will be smaller.
Folks, you’re seeing the beginning of regentrification. With an area this old, the tendency is to demolish and build newer and updated facilities for uses that are wanted or needed. It used to be a gas station years ago, but since then it’s sat empty. We’re going to see a lot going on in that area as the area becomes almost new again! More interesting things to come in the next column. I just couldn’t get them all in at this time.