Have we ever been this busy? I can’t remember when! There are so many things going on at the same time. Take for instance the Marco Kiwanis Car Show at Veteran’s park. It’s always a great success, and always a lot of fun. Even though it was also the weekend of the Ferrari Car Show in downtown Naples, nothing stopped the people from also coming to our car show, and they were glad they did. Then starting this coming week, The Wall That Heals is coming into town, only for a few days, and it’s the only showing of the Wall (Vietnam Wall) in the whole state of Florida! What I’m really personally hoping to see is the hundreds of motorcycles escorting the wall as it comes across the Jolley Bridge between 12 noon and 12:15 on Tuesday, February 18th. Of course, The Wall will remain in the truck until the next day when it will be put in place by hundreds of volunteers. The Wall will be ready for prime time, starting Thursday, February 20th and will remain open and guarded 24 hours a day until it leaves our area. The closing ceremony will be at 4 PM on Sunday, February 23rd. Yes, there are other things going on simultaneously, but some people will want to adjust their calendar to be able to do both! You have to be flexible in these times! Personally, I don’t want to miss anything, so I always try to adjust times to get to each event somehow. It gets a little difficult with 3 events in the same evening, but I’ve been known to get to the first one a little early, stay a reasonable amount of time, get to the second event for the dinner and stay a reasonable amount of time, and then get to the 3rd event late, making sure they know I’ll be late, and spend the remaining part of the evening there. People have always been understanding, and I really appreciate that! I love this crazy life! And while the wall is here, the Knights of Columbus will be holding a benefit at the San Marco Church Hall called “Nearly Diamond – the Neil Diamond experience” on February 21st from 7 to 9 PM. Tickets are just $35 and can be purchased by calling Joe Swaja at 239-269-7033 or the Parish Hall. Beverages will be available to purchase. Also, earlier that same day will be the unveiling of the first public art sculpture on Collier Blvd., 951 and U.S. 41 across from the pharmacy and in the median on the right–hand turn-lane coming off 951 from Lely Resort, and onto U.S. 41 E.
- Have you noticed that the golf courses are extremely busy and it’s difficult to even get a t-time, much less a parking space? Commissioners are saying golf is a dying sport, but it sure doesn’t look like it when you get near a golf course or a restaurant adjacent to a golf course. I love going to Sam Snead’s restaurant at Lely Resort, but it’s very difficult to find a parking space because when all the golf spaces are full, and the golfers have no place else to turn they must use the restaurant parking. It’s great to know that so many people are here and wanting to play, but you can clearly see it is not a dying sport. Possibly with the millennials somewhere else, but here in one of the golf capitals of the U.S., the sport is alive and well! Wow, did you see the Chubb Classic? There were huge amounts of people coming into town to play and to watch.
- Soon, pickleball will be holding the U.S. Open in the usual place—East Naples Community Park, which has added another 10 courts, bringing it to 64 courts in just one park, and it’s in one of the smallest parks in the county, if not the smallest park in the county. This year, they have started making some upgrades to the park, and next year there will be many more. The U.S. Open is always held during the last week of April, but more about that in another “Breeze” column.
- Turtle nesting lasts for 6 months, from May through October, so the county cannot re–nourish beaches, nor can communities, during this time period! It is the law. People get upset with us because they want the beaches done before vacation season or after, but the law says the only months we can do work on the beaches is from November 1st to April 30th. Our window of opportunity is restricted and complicated by the availability of qualified dredging contractors to accomplish this work in half the calendar year. We work 24/7 to shorten the time it takes on the beach and get the project finished as quickly as possible. I know this is not what people want to hear, but at least you can now understand what limitations we are required to work under.
- During this month, the Florida Legislature is discussing vacation rentals under Senate Bill 1128. It appears that the Senate is trying to turn back the clock on vacation rentals and preempt the state regulation of vacation rentals, trying to kill the rule in place and instead allow vacation rentals. In other words, trying to remove local laws that are in place. Quote: “This harmful bill turns back the clock on local regulation of vacation rentals, unravels any form of local vacation rental oversight and regulation,” etc. Home rule is about the only protection we have in place to decide what is best for our particular county or community, and it seems they are slowly trying to dismantle our local authority. That’s pretty scary.