Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Editorials & Opinions: Let’s Talk About Affordable Housing

COASTAL COMMENTS

Donna Fiala

Summer is coming up fast, and not much of a spring at all. So dry and quite warm for this time of year. There are still many people here because the weather up north is pretty darned cold. I’d stay here as well if I would have to face that cold (which I do not handle well at all).

  • Affordable Housing has been quite the subject lately. The people in the City of Naples have systematically and methodically gotten rid of their affordable housing and are pushing to have their affordable housing built in East Naples, regardless of what it does to that community. There has been an ongoing effort on Bayshore to create an arts and culture area that has been planned… and folks, they’re working hard at it! If the City needs the affordable housing so badly, why did they get rid of it? Okay, we know the answer to that, but everyone remains politically correct and will not say. Meanwhile, in the Bayshore area, the CAPA Group (Bayshore Cultural & Performing Arts group) have been working for years on building their own performing arts center right on Bayshore with the 17-acre property that they have bid on, and with it would be a parking garage which is truly needed for the playhouse and the area, plus they are constantly requesting commercial businesses to shop in and enjoy. All of these businesses were planned on the 17 acres (of which nine acres is water), and then all of a sudden 240 low income rental housing units are being proposed to squish into that same small remaining property! Here is a struggling community, working for years to pull themselves to a better quality of life, and “someone” comes along and is trying to minimize it because the City of Naples needs the housing! Now really, is that fair? Is it fair to that community? Is it fair to the surrounding area as they strive to create a better quality of life for their families?
    The good news is that quite a bit of housing in many categories is being built as we speak, such as four new Habitat Villages and an extra 109 units to add to an existing village, plus 296 reasonably priced rental units are already built and began renting on Monday, April 9th, and it is a great price for nurses, x-ray techs, teachers, deputies, paramedics, young professionals, etc., and this gated community offers a pool, two dog parks, fitness center, tennis courts, outstanding swimming pool, etc. with one, two, and three- bedroom apartments right on Collier Boulevard! Then another one with 304 units is coming on-line soon, with the buildings already standing with roofs and windows and some shutters, and should be ready toward the end of the summer at a place on Rattlesnake Hammock Road, again for a moderate income family with many amenities, plus another rental place is just about to come out of the ground at Southwest Boulevard and U.S. 41E which has 300 units and again it will be great for average income employees with many lovely amenities, plus another 400 rental units are on their way on Manatee Road, and not the ones you have been reading about. There is also more coming on Immokalee Road, and on Pine Ridge Road. What you see here is the development community seeing a need and working to solve it without government spending or government dollars! I’ve counted about 3,000 dwelling units coming on board within the next two years with a mix of low, workforce, medium and middle income units being built or planned to be built that will cover many, many rental units, but also condos and single family and townhouses, etc. No one has ever taken the time to look to see all that is happening all around us. They cry CRISIS, and people run to fix the problem without seeing that it is already on the mend! AND, there is more coming that I have not even mentioned. I’m worried that there will be too many, but I think the development community is also a smart community and won’t let that happen because they would be the ones that would lose. And please don’t get me started on a Sales Tax Referendum. If you want your voice to be heard on this subject, write to me at DonnaFiala@colliergov.net.
  • Now that I’ve stirred the pot quite a bit, I’ll skip on to another subject that isn’t so heavy. How about the Mermaid Party at Lois Selfon’s home with her special yearly mermaid friends. I wish you could have seen them! They were delightful, with tails and all, lighted headdresses, and others dressed in skirts or slacks with scale-like fabric. What a delightful party! If you’ve never met Lois, you should! She’s an artist with so much creativity that I’m surprised she can fit it all in one little body. And her friends! There is Erika Henson, the word creative started with her! She actually designed and sewed most of the costumes. She is one of “old timer” Neapolitans from the beginning. There were many others, but I’ll only mention these two. You can guess from there.
  • The Marco Island Seafood Festival was a smashing success with great weather and marvelous food and great people! This event is a cooperative effort between the two Rotary clubs and the Kiwanis Club on Marco Island. That’s the way it should be — people working together for the betterment of the community, and that effort was in full force those days! It was so much fun!
  • The Naples Elks Lodge on U.S. 41E has finally reopened! They were really hit mightily by the hurricane and are still in recovery, but finally they can open on Saturdays to one of their favorite events: Hot Dog Saturday from 11:30 AM until 2 PM. These hot dogs are soaked in beer overnight and then grilled outdoors to perfection and served with cheese, chili, onions, and other trimmings, and they all come with potato chips as well… for $3! They are always looking for new members who love hot dogs, play bingo, eat out a couple evenings during the week, etc. Stop by and talk to them.

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