My office started getting messages from Marco Island residents earlier this week about a trolley to the beaches, so I called the head of this department to get the correct information. First, she explained it’s in the idea stages and had only spoken to the City Council about the idea. After that, the County started studying the idea. The transportation would be in the form of a trolley—not a bus—and would be stationed on the Island as sort of an island-only trolley taking tourists staying at rental homes and hotels on the island to the beach rather than tying up precious automobile space at the beaches. Being that there are no plans in place yet, they are still open to ideas and suggestions. Once they have a preliminary plan in place, they will then hold community meetings to talk with the residents. As you can see, there is no plan in place and no firm ideas about what the program would look like at this point. I just wanted you to know the up-to-date information about a subject I started getting mail about as soon as I could research it, so there you have it!
*Sometimes I feel it is necessary to explain why I voted the way I did. Today is one of those times, and the subject matter is “wearing masks.” The Governor’s plan was finished on October 22nd, and so was our Mask Mandate, but then again, one of the commissioners wanted to schedule another emergency meeting to discuss the masks once more. I had already spoken to many advisors to discuss the numbers and figures. Here is what I discovered before the meeting. All three cities in Collier County had chosen not to put a Mask Mandate in place in their locations—Marco Island, Everglades City, and the City of Naples. Also, Lee County had no Mask Mandate, nor did Charlotte County. The only area with a Mask Mandate was Collier County, which some have fought bitterly, even with their dollars. It’s hurt the businesses tremendously. People will travel to Marco Island or the City of Naples rather than patronize businesses where they are required to wear masks, is what I’ve been told; and some even shared experiences. As we all know, it’s been terribly difficult to survive for many, many businesses. So, in my search for the facts and figures, I was looking for how much the County’s Mandate has helped the county residents over the residents of the cities and the surrounding counties. That makes sense… right?
Lo and behold… there was NO DIFFERENCE! No matter where we looked, the County didn’t have lower virus numbers than the cities or surrounding counties and we were required to wear masks! That information came in last week, but that news was amazing! So I mentioned that information at the meeting and asked them what they were hoping to accomplish by keeping the Mask Mandate in place. Ohm and by the way, they voted to keep it for another 6 MONTHS! As I’m sure everyone knows, our numbers have continued to drop.
Now it’s true that we will probably have a surge of people coming in for our gorgeous winter, some visitors and some winter residents, so I suggested all businesses should decide how they want to address this. If they want to require masks, well then do it! It’s their business. If people feel more comfortable wearing masks, DO IT! There’s nothing stopping them. Heck, you can wear masks all year long if you’d like. You have a choice about your health and well-being. Now that the Governor’s plan has ended, I asked the County Attorney at that meeting in front of the cameras about those people who feel it’s up to them to report everyone they see not wearing a mask. So, who should they call? He said: “It’s not against the law, so there is no one to report it to.” The commission chamber had many people in attendance asking to let the issue die and to wear a mask when they feel comfortable doing so or in a surrounding that they prefer to wear a mask. There were many callers also adding their opinion. Since then, I’ve had businesses call to thank me for trying to save their businesses and employees. I don’t think anyone watched that 4-hour meeting and I didn’t see anything in the paper, so I’m telling you about it, seeing that I was IN the meeting.
*Another subject that keeps creeping up is the incinerator that the developers want to get approved on Rigg’s Rd., across from Royal Palm Golf Estates, and near the north/east entrance of Fiddler’s Creek off U. S. 41E and near the new Publix shopping center that is being built right now in that area. The Incinerator Property is located at the entrance to Riggs Rd. which is a family community. When these people bought that land, the area was completely different, and it was far out and away from most communities, but now development is beating at its door. They’ve held a couple of neighborhood meetings (NIM’s) and I went to one of them. Others covered them as well, and there was always a decent crowd, but this project is not right for that area! Here is one project we must gather together to stop! The area is getting popular for new development and that land would probably call for a pretty good price. It’s kind of like Pine Ridge Road when I moved here in 1974. Pine Ridge Road was the end of the county, as far as anyone was concerned. They even chose that area for their cemetery—Rose Cemetery. Now, it’s extremely valuable land. I truly believe these developers need to sell this land, get a high price, and find another place to build their horticulture waste and incinerator. It’s really the only thing that makes sense!
*I cannot believe all the cars that have just appeared over the last two weeks! People were saying not many are planning on coming back this year, but here it is, only October, and it already feels like January! So that’s when this girl stays close to home, cooks or eats at restaurants close to home and doesn’t shop at all. It’s time for the merchants to shine in the eyes of the visitors and winter residents, and time for year-rounders to stay closer to home.
*I hope you’ll vote ‘Yes’ on Conservation Collier, which is the last question on your ballot. Conservation Collier has been around since it was first approved by voters in 2002. It’s created 21 nature preserves throughout the County where residents and visitors can walk, jog, bike ride, skateboard, rollerblade, hunt, play, fish, and observe wildlife—but funding for the program expired. If we want to keep protecting natural areas so future generations can enjoy them the same way we do, we need to vote “Yes” to restoring Conservation Collier funding.
Collier County is growing quickly. If we vote to fund Conservation Collier, the County will be able to save more of the greenspace in our urban areas—preventing us from feeling like we’re in the hustle and bustle of downtown Los Angeles or New York.
I’m proud to say I successfully fought for a new preserve just north of Rattlesnake Hammock Road, between Santa Barbara and Collier Blvd. County staff is still working to open it up to the public, but once trails are created in 2021, local residents will be able to walk or bike to it and enjoy its beauty. For now, it’s a much nicer place to drive-by than another development would be!
On Marco Island, Conservation Collier created the Otter Mound Preserve. If you visit, you can see historical artifacts, enjoy a walk in the shade, or just sit on a bench and enjoy the sounds of birds. The preserve is located on the site of a Calusa shell mound, and really gives you a feeling of what old Collier was like. After the Calusa, it was home to Marco Island clamming workers.
Conservation Collier also helps with water quality in our rivers, lakes, and beaches. We all remember how devastating Red Tide was for our businesses and community. Conservation Collier protects our waters from pollutants by catching things like fertilizer runoff before they get to our waterways. These types of pollutants feed both red tide and blue-green algae. Protected lands also hold floodwaters, which we know is important during storms and hurricanes.
We get all these benefits from Conservation Collier, forever! These preserves are free and open to the public, and a maintenance fund grows interest so they can be managed into perpetuity without additional taxes.
*Are you planning for a nice Thanksgiving? I know we are. Only 4 of my kids and their kids will be here, but that fills our house nicely. The last son will be home for Christmas when ALL of us are here. We have a pretty nice crowd with my kids, and grandkids and great-grandkids. It gets a little noisy, but it’s fun with lots of love and laughter and so great to see one another!