Bill Barnett with Naples Potpourri

Bill Barnett

I always think the May, June, and July article in Life in Naples is the Season wrap up for me. I guess I’m in a different time zone. In a brief recap I remember so well like so many of us do where we were last September when Ian dealt its damaging blow to Florida and points North. Over the years I specifically remember dealing with former hurricanes and remember them well but none like Ian. I was in New York on vacation just about two days away from driving my car from Buffalo to Naples. Watching the broadcasts on television and the picture that was unfolding before me I knew that number one, I wasn’t going anywhere and number two we were going to be in for a rough ride with this one. I’ll fast forward now because we all know what happened and many throughout Florida are and will be dealing with the effects of Ian for many years to come. The most important thing to not forget is that many of our friends and neighbors still need our help even though it’s not at the top of the conversation list for us, it is for those who still suffer from Ian.

It’s not often that during my political career I would be stumped by a question because there literally was no answer and it was a valid question. There is an organization in Naples called Naples Better Government that has been around for 30 years. Its main objective is to interview political candidates from local to state, it is non-partisan, and simply makes recommendations based on the information gleaned from their interviews and their backgrounds. It also does a follow up with candidates they have recommended and were elected after a year just to see how they are doing and are they living up to their campaign promises. I am pleased to be a member of Naples Better Government. Recently we did our follow up interviews with some Naples City Council members and it was nice to be able to report that they were doing a commendable job. After their interviews and they had left, our board discussed what we had just heard and made our recommendations. One of our board members was unhappy with an answer to a question that he asked, it was about what can we do about the traffic? (Specifically in the City of Naples but basically everywhere) The Council Member answered the question exactly how I would have and basically said not a lot which was an honest answer.

I can’t pinpoint exactly when traffic became an issue, but I will tell you that as the city and county really started to grow in the 1990s the traffic grew along with it. The influx of citizens that had discovered Naples along with businesses, restaurants, hotels and everything and anything that would cause more traffic happened. Roads were being built to keep up with the growth but not fast enough. “What are you going to do about this traffic?” It was a question then and is a question now. The City of Naples invested in every new piece of traffic technology from synching lights, road design plans, and a myriad of solutions. Some worked and some didn’t but over time and as the growth continued the traffic saturation point during season reached its max. Collier County has done its best as well, but it was too late. The old saying “trying to stuff 10 pounds of potatoes in a 5 pound bag” sums it up. I could write a lot more about traffic, but the bottom line is it’s not like driving on the Long Island Expressway, the Freeway in California, I-4 in Orlando and many more like the above. So, add 10-20 minutes to getting to your destination in the city, or the county, and understand it’s not going to get any better during the Winter Season.

In closing our May, June and July article, I just want to say that it has been a decent season considering what
we have been through. Looks can be deceiving and not all business friends that I am in constant touch with are happy. Although we had a lot of traffic and the restaurants and places of lodging looked very busy, that wasn’t exactly the case. There were more vacancies than usual and folks weren’t spending like they normally do during the season. I suppose this was expected but it sure looked busier than ever to me, but I’m not an expert on crunching those numbers. I wish you all a great summer whether you’re staying here or traveling, make the most out of it. Naples is nice during the summer, you can go to any restaurant you please, no reservations needed, and they will be glad to see you. Lots of places to park, some great summer sales, and nobody will honk their horn at you.

We will take a vacation and head to Buffalo where we have a lot of family and rent a cottage in Angola, New York. Once again, I will eat way too much local corn, eat enough chicken wings so when I get back to Naples I won’t eat another one till the following summer and the same goes for pizza and some very good restaurants. No, I’m not being a hypocrite after that Naples in the summer intro and then I leave, we don’t go till the end of July so I can enjoy both!

I wish you all a great summer whether you’re staying here or traveling make the most out of it. Naples is nice during the summer, you can go to any restaurant you please, no reservations needed and they will be glad to see you. 

Bill Barnett, Former Mayor
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