Naples Potpourri by Bill Barnett

Bill Barnett

It’s hard for me to imagine that Spring is right around the corner and of course I don’t want to be remiss as I can’t write about the NFL anymore this year. My Buffalo Bills got crushed by the Cincinnati Bengals and then the Bengals lost to the Kansas City Chiefs. My wife Chris’s phone has been silent now ever since that Bills loss. I asked her if it was broken and she just gave me a sad smile and said “No, now I have to wait for another year. But next year will be the Bills year, so I’ll say it now: Go Bills” The old saying “hope springs eternal” is so true!

The other day someone made a statement to me about how glad they were that Hurricane Ian is long gone
and it was said with an attitude that there wasn’t a care in the world about that hurricane and all was wonderful in Naples, Florida. Sometimes I must wonder what goes on in people’s minds when I hear comments like that, but perhaps to them that’s the way it seems. Where do I even start? Here we are in March 2023 and throughout Collier County and the City of Naples there are homes without roofs and blue tarps everywhere you look. There are friends of mine and many others that totally lost their homes and to talk with them daily and watch the struggles they are going through with their children trying to get re-organized to resume a somewhat normal life is heartbreaking to me. There are condemned buildings on Gulf Shore Blvd N. and elsewhere that will sit there with whatever future might be in the cards for them undetermined because of zoning issues and building codes. There are folks that still haven’t received any help from FEMA and none in sight. The promised trailers for them remain a mystery as to their whereabouts. For those that have insurance issues and are trying to get a settlement for their demolished properties is nothing short of a nightmare. For those on fixed incomes that have sustained damage their lives are changed forever.

The landlords find themselves in a bind as well. Some are just not nice people and are gouging wherever they can, and I hear stories everyday of families being forced out of their homes because the landlords can make more money with the shortage of housing. But there are those landlords that are kind and even though they are faced with higher costs they do their best to help their tenants however they can. I watched a young couple renting across the street from us move to Fort Myers because a greedy landlord raised their rent to an amount that made it impossible for them to stay at their current address. I’ve met both types. For those of you that follow my articles in Life in Naples you know I am not a gloom and doom person and on the contrary, I am about as positive as a person can be. I could continue with many more issues that are Hurricane Ian related but you have the idea that it’s not as it may seem to the naked eye.

As for the City of Naples they are doing the best they can, because of a good hard working employee base
that is out on the streets every day and working behind the scenes to make the never-ending repairs. I know one of the biggest projects that they are trying to get reopened is Lowdermilk Park, which would alleviate a huge parking problem and allow folks to get to the beach. Also, they are making progress on the beach ends but some of them are just going to be more time consuming.

Yet, with all the above being said it seems that we are having a huge Season with our hospitality industry being close to capacity almost daily and as I always write each year and am being repetitious when I write this, restaurant reservations are at a premium. I witnessed first-hand trying to make a reservation for two weeks out and they could only give me 5:00 p.m. or 8:15 p.m. and it was a weeknight, so plan ahead!

Bill Barnett, Former Mayor

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