My goodness the county is emptying out…and so is our volunteer corps! I’ve always marveled at the winter residents who arrive and immediately go to work helping our community, like the Fire Rescue Foundation, both hospitals, the sheriff’s office, the police department, the schools, The Shelter for Abused Women, the homeless shelter, the library, the museum, Domestic Animal Services, and everything else you can think of. When our winter residents leave, so do our volunteers! I wish them a great summer, but look forward to their return in the fall.
• The Civil Air Patrol is working hard to peruse our area as they watch over us. They had a lovely event at their hangar at the Marco Island Airport recently. They had plenty to show off, and their enthusiasm was contagious! It would be wonderful if we could have a fundraiser for them. They work hard at watching over us, but they could use a little help from their friends. I am approaching the county and the sheriff’s office for a little help. Hopefully that will happen. Maybe we could have a community-wide “party at the port” to assist them as well? Think about it. Who would you contact? Try Ray Rosenberg – he’s one of them! He lives right on the island, so he’s easily accessible.
• You have seen the work begin on Collier Boulevard landscaping recently. This work is funded by FDOT, as Collier Boulevard south is a state road, not a county road. Collier County applies for the grant though. Each time they finish one section the county applies for another grant. When they finally receive the grant, they begin the permits and design work, and finally the construction. This time they ran into quite a bit of large rocks, which delayed them. They are removing the rock, installing an irrigation system, adding good soil, and finally then, the material will be placed. Once that is in place, we’ll again apply for another grant for the next section. Slowly but surely we are getting there. It takes time, but it will get done. Meanwhile, we are going back and reworking the median to improve some work that needed care. Sometimes, because we have to go out for bid and accept the lowest bid, the work isn’t exactly what we had hoped for.
• While we are talking about landscaping, Collier County is about to embark on its landscaping program that has been stalled for quite a while. There will be three starts, but the one we will see most is the intersection of U.S. 41E and Collier Boulevard. This will be a major project, but when it’s completed, it should look beautiful. It will be designed in a manner that when the state comes in to install the overpass (Collier Boulevard will fly over U.S. 41E) they won’t have to dig anything up, just place the overpass into place because the road is already designed to accommodate that flyover. It will be a number of years yet until it is built – at least 5 years or so, but the FDOT has it in their budget for around 2025. That date is fluid, of course. We are hoping that the landscaped intersection will bring pride to the area! Maybe a water feature? Maybe some artwork? Yes, trees, bushes, plants, etc. The design work is in production. It’s always so comforting to come back home and see how beautiful it is here! We plan on keeping it that way! No, that beauty doesn’t come cheap, but oh, it is so worth it, and it makes us proud of where we live.
• We’ve been working with Hideaway Beach recently. They have a problem that will benefit all of us. They have too much sand, and we can use it in so many places. Before Collier County can use it though, we have to seek permits from Fish & Wildlife, FDEP, Army Corps., etc. If we can take some of that sand and get it to Tigertail, it should help with some of their problems, because right now we have plenty of parking there but no sand on what WAS the beach, but is now a mud puddle. The beach on Sand Dollar Island is so far away that people with coolers, chairs, children, etc., can hardly walk all that way, and heaven help you if you get there and someone has to go back to use the facilities! We have bathroom facilities by the parking lot, but they are a long, long hike. Sadly, many people just walk across the lagoon and through the birding area to the other side because it is much closer.
• Eagle Lakes Park will finally have a pool of its own! That’s the park on U.S. 41 East, next to Lely Resort. You will begin to see construction soon. They will have a lap pool for the Lely High School kids. Lely has a great swim team, but they have to be transported to someone else’s lap pool now. Next summer they will have their own. There will also be a family pool, a water slide and a kiddie pool. It’s long overdue, that’s for sure.
• A special goodbye to Roy and Pat Birkeland, wonderful friends of Marco Island and all the surrounding areas. We have enjoyed your friendship and wish you well on your new venture. You will certainly be missed!
• To all those who offered to help knit or sew caps for children who are undergoing chemotherapy, I want to thank you so much, and I want to mention Sandy in particular. She was so willing, but found her group was already helping another club. Well, we found a group who has made us 600 cancer caps, and they are being distributed now to pediatric oncologists, to hospitals, and to cancer centers. Thank you everyone for caring so much about others. God bless you all!
• For those of you who are still here, or who will stay here: Enjoy the summer, enjoy getting into restaurants easier, shopping easier, and just enjoy your friends who live here year ‘round. There are more and more people staying all the time! Why leave? It’s wonderful here. Yes, it gets humid, but then we have air conditioning to keep us cool, and every business has air conditioning as well, so we can shop and eat out and enjoy, just not work in the yard unless it is early in the morning.