Happy New Year
2023 is a special year for my wife Chris and myself. Although we moved to Naples within months of each other, we each had been previously married. The year was 1973, which makes 2023 fifty years for each of us living in Naples, Florida. In my 50 years I have always been a resident of the City of Naples, and we got married in 1985, so Chris has been a City resident for a lot of years as well.
Just a very brief synopsis if I could turn the clock back right now as you read this to what an average day in January 1973 might be like. U.S. 41 (Tamiami Trail) was two lanes. There was no Park Shore or anything North. The area being developed was the Moorings and that was as far North as it went with Ketch and Starboard Drive being at the end. The population was approximately 5,000 people, including the entire County. Sidewalks were at a minimum and Fifth Avenue South was the Main Street with a pharmacy, a few retail stores, a bank, and a few office buildings. Wynn’s grocery store which was tiny then, not like today, and two very good restaurants, Piccadilly Pub and St. George & the Dragon. No malls! Lots of beautiful uninhabited beaches and Port Royal had started developing in 1969 so it was fledgling. Great fishing with a few local guides who had grown up here. Yes, you guessed it, Naples, Florida, was a dot on a map and was definitely undiscovered. I could fill many pages and take you through the years and I might just do that in a future article because it’s been a while since I’ve done that and it’s fun writing about and more fun to read.
I would definitely be remiss if I didn’t talk about my favorite Buffalo Bills and the recent blizzard that they had. Also try and remember as you read this that we write our articles for Life in Naples at least a month in advance and sometimes a little longer. As I write this article it’s shortly after Thanksgiving. We spend our summers about thirty miles from the City of Buffalo as my wife is from Buffalo and a lot of her family still lives there. We have many nephews and nieces there and although living in the Buffalo area of course you’re used to snow and sometimes a lot of it, but never like this. In Orchard Park where a few of them live they had a record of 77 inches of snow. I think the kids loved it the first day, but that got old fast. All residents were warned to have at least three full days of food on hand and be prepared to be snowbound and they were. We spoke with our family daily and they all did well, but it was a snowstorm that won’t be forgotten for a long time. If you haven’t guessed, we are avid Bills fans and their scheduled home game last week had to be moved to Detroit because of too much snow. They made it there and the stories about how they got there were great. Lots of help from neighbors and fans all over the City, they all made it. They played their game, barely won, and flew home. Then turned around and went right back there for Thanksgiving and won again and went right back home. Someday they will all have stories for their grandkids!
What is my guess for 2023 politically in the City of Naples? This is just my opinion which doesn’t mean a lot, so don’t hold me to it. Our City Council elections will be in February or March of 2024 and the current Mayor and three Council members will have terms that are expiring. I think that in late Spring of this year you will start to hear rumblings about potential Mayoral Candidates and Council Candidates. Whether the current Mayor decides to run for another term is just a flip of the coin at this time. Although the City looks very good and the City employees have done a great job making Naples look good after the hurricane, it’s what you don’t see that is worrisome. It will take years to rebuild from the damage caused by Hurricane Ian.
Once again, I’ll say it, although 2023 is a Centennial year, I just am not comfortable with all kinds of celebrations and events going on with many of our local residents who have lost their homes and have nothing to celebrate. Sure, have a few recognitions that it is a
Centennial year and wait a year for some of the bigger celebrations. One thing that’s a sure bet, they won’t listen to me but there will be those who read this that will understand where I’m coming from.
I say this every year at this time, remember if you have company in town and you’re going out to one of our phenomenal restaurants,
make a dinner reservation or you’ll be shut out!!!!!!!! Okay, A Happy Healthy New Year especially for all of those who really need one!
Bill Barnett, Former Mayor
I do respond to e-mails at: firstname.lastname@example.org