Saturday, February 22, 2020

There’s a New, Great, Big Park in Town: Been There?

Rumination from the Rock and Beyond

Photos by Jory Westberry


When friends started telling me about Baker Park and how great it is, my first thought was, “Yeah, yeah,” and continued what I was doing. But after finally spending some time there, I realized what a gem it truly is. Baker Park is on Goodlette-Frank Rd, about a half-mile north of Tin City on the right. Prepare to be WOWED. 

After going through several iterations of what it was to contain from lots of input, it finally evolved into lots of green space, walking and biking paths that wind for miles, playground equipment that encourages diverse kinds of exercise and fun, picnic areas, a water spout area for the little ones with pint-size playground equipment nearby and views of the Gordon River that bring peace and calm into your soul. 



But wait, there’s more! Kayak and canoe launching areas, picnic areas, wideopen spaces that cry for kite flying, frisbee tossing or lounging around on blankets, gliders to sit and enjoy the view, exercise equipment along the paths and it is leashed dog-friendlyexcept on the AstroTurf and in kids’ areaswhere even the signage is positive. 

Waterspouts draw the little tykes.

Native plants and grasses have been planted and the native trees, which are small at this point, will grow and provide shade in the near future. By then, Baker Park will be a well-known destination for the people who love the outdoors, wide-open spaces and getting their exercise outdoors. You’ll see people with walkers, or carts who are doing their physical therapy outside in this beautiful setting. There are plenty of water stations, even for your furry, four-footed companions and photo opportunities abound. 

Recently, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran, along with other Florida government dignitaries, including Senator Kathleen Passidomo who represents the 28th district (which includes Naples), traveled to Naples’ Baker Park community center to make an important announcement about the new Florida K-12 curriculum standards that will be implemented in 2021-2022. This was a perfect setting for this important state-wide educational update. More on the new standards later. 

Thanks to a significant donation from Jay and Patty Baker, Baker Park was officially opened on October 29, 2019. “A recent survey showed that 95% of people voted that parks are the best place to spend time, in today’s world when do you get 95% of people to agree on anything? But, the residents of Naples [and Collier County, my note] have not just a park, but the best park,” according to Jay and Patty Baker. 

Dana Souza, formerly the Parks and Recreation Director and Interim City Manager in Marco Island, and is now the Community Services Director for Naples stated, “This park is second to none.” I couldn’t agree more. Bring your blankets, bikes, Bichons and picnic, perch on “the mini-mountain” and enjoy Naples as you have never before. 


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