Naples residents love their parks! This love comes easily when the city is graced with wonderful open spaces of various sizes, shapes and amenities that meet the diverse outdoors and recreational interests of
residents. From the popular Cambier Park in the heart of downtown Naples – to the beach front Lowdermilk Park – to small but unique neighborhood parks like Bow Line Park; there is truly a space everyone can love.
Claiming that Naples residents love their parks is not hyperbole, it is fact supported by the results from a 2015 statistically valid survey concerning city parks and recreation facilities. The survey was sent to 6,000 city residents and 880 residents, or 14.7% responded. Generally speaking, a minimum of 10% responses are required to make the survey valid. Likewise, anything over 10% is considered a good response.
When asked: “How important parks and recreation facilities are to the Quality of Life in Naples’, 75% said they are ‘very important’, 19% said they are ‘important’, 4% had ‘no opinion’ and 2% thought parks were ‘not important’. Other survey questions support the notion that residents find the city’s park system to be valuable, in good condition and worthy of taxpayer support.
Each year, the Naples City Council establishes a budget that provides for the routine care and maintenance of city parks and for capital investments. For the most part, these capital investments pay for upgrading existing facilities or adding new amenities at various parks. For example, in 2018 funds were allocated to renovate the tennis courts at Seagate Park, replaced roofing and tables at picnic shelters at Charlie C. Anthony Park, upgraded tennis court lighting at the Arthur Allen Tennis Center, renovated the basketball court at River Park and reconditioned beach dune walkovers at multiple beach access areas throughout the city.
The point is, caring for a park system is always a work in progress and requires constant upkeep. Thankfully, the City of Naples has created excellent parks and been good stewards of these lands and facilities. Perhaps the largest park project to take place in Naples since the park system was established, is the creation of Baker Park. For many years, the City has considered various concepts for a park at Riverside Circle.
There has been no shortage of ideas about how the park should look and what activities it should support, and the Naples City Council has led a complex design process that ultimately led to breaking ground for the park’s construction in February 2018. Once opened, Baker Park will be different from all the City’s other parks and will truly be unique in its setting, architecture, topography and openness. It is also unique in that residents have donated millions of dollars including Jay and Patty Baker, for whom
the park is named for and the Blair Foundation, named for John and Dorothy Blair.
While Baker Park will be a landscape park with a destination playground, a tall knoll that provides exceptional views of the Gordon River, a performance stage to host special events and a stunning building that can be rented for retreats, weddings and birthday parties; Baker Park will also serve as a major destination along the Gordon River Greenway.
As a Blue Zones city, Naples is all about healthy lifestyles including walking and bicycling. With the recent reconstruction of Central Avenue, pedestrians and bicyclists will be able to safely connect between downtown Naples and Collier County’s Gordon River Greenway Park by passing through Baker Park and crossing the recently completed Blair Foundation Bridge, which connects Baker Park to North Road and the Greenway.
The first phase of Baker Park construction will open to the public in March (yes, 2019!) and the remainder of the park in October 2019. If you haven’t visited the Naples park system recently, please
take an opportunity to get out into the fresh air in our beautiful community. You can view a list of city park facilities on the city’s website at the following web address: https://www.naplesgov.