After 60 years of serving the community of River Park, Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church is in need of renovations. The building is much more than a place of worship for the community; it is a life blood for so many. The church is invested in the community and is a vital part of Naples’ rich history.
Rewind to 1927 in Naples, and many African Americans lived and worked in an area in town called the “Ditch Bank” which is now known as Crayton Cove. The area was called the Ditch Bank because the workers there cut the canal connecting Naples Bay to the Gulf of Mexico and the excavated dirt was piled on the banks. This community of African Americans met for weekly prayer at the Ditch Bank which would eventually turn into Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church. The church was formally organized by Reverend Mack Duffey in 1929 after he was invited to preach a sermon before the congregation.
Today, the church is located at 1003 3rd Avenue North, Naples and was built in 1954. The land for the church was generously donated by the Watkins Family, owner of the Naples Beach Hotel. Although the church had humble beginnings, it gives back big to the community in the form of services it provides. Not only is it a soulful place to worship, it also serves as a safe haven for many of the less fortunate. The church coordinates with the State to offer assistance to low income families: utility bills; rental assistance to members in need; provide counseling to those dealing with a crisis; and coordinates with the local food bank to distribute food to the homeless, to name a few. The church recently partnered with the City to build the first community gardens to encourage healthy eating by growing fruits and vegetables. The garden has been a success and is located at the River Park Community Center which is across the street from the church.
Community is what comes to mind when I think about Macedonia because of the warm welcome the congregation gives to its visitors. I remember when Delores and I attended the church on August 4, 2013 with Governor Rick and First Lady Ann Scott who came after they were invited by members of the youth choir. They welcomed us with open arms and it was a treat to hear the youth choir sing. What a joyful noise we heard that Sunday.
After my visit to the church, I could not help but think, “What a wonderful congregation and how can I help make a difference?” I have formed a great relationship with Pastor Lonnie Mills of Macedonia and learned that the church was in need of renovations required to meet current hurricane standards because most of the original structure is still in place. There is a long list of needed repairs such as new doors and windows, a new pew, a classroom for the youth, new sidewalks, ramps, and ADA restrooms, to name a few. That was my cue to get involved.
That was when the idea to have a Soul Food Gala to raise funds to help with the renovations of the church was developed. I stepped forward as the Honorary Chair, with Irene Williams, Chair and Macedonia member, and Councilman Bill Barnett as the celebrity auctioneer. The gala will be an event to remember and will feature good ole fashion southern soul food, performances by the youth and male choirs, a live and silent auction and much more. The evening will be filled with good fun, food, and fellowship. Caribbean or African attire is optional. The gala will be held on February 13th at 6 p.m. at the River Park Community Center, 301 11th Street North, Naples. Patrons will be given an opportunity for naming rights at the church. This is an event you do not want to miss if you want to help make a difference and eat some good soul food while doing it.
This year, Macedonia will be celebrating its 85th anniversary in the City. Join me in celebrating this part of history in Naples. The church is one of the many organizations in the community that have contributed to our beauty and character that people from around the world travel to see and experience. History plays a part in being a link to a sustainable place to live, work and play and preserving it benefits everyone culturally, economically, and socially.
I am asking the community to support the gala, whether by attending the gala, making a donation or making any difference you can. Please contact Macedonia if you are interested in attending or getting involved by calling 239.262.4877 or visit their website at http://www.mmbcnaples.org/
BEACH RENOURISHMENT COMPLETION
I am extremely proud that the 2013 beach renourishment was completed ahead of schedule, on budget, and without any major issues. The Vanderbilt Beach sector began on October 14th and was completed on November 14th with delivery of 89,927 tons. The Park Shore sector began on October 16th and was completed on December 6th with 122,500 tons delivered. The Naples Beach sector began on October 21st and was completed on December 10th with delivery of over 100,000 tons. Renourishment of the Pelican Bay beaches was unfortunately delayed due to a permit challenge and is scheduled to begin during the first two weeks of January 2014. The quality of sand, the professionalism of the contractor, truck driver, and other personnel was outstanding.
Our thanks to Gary McAlpin, Coastal Zone Manager for his leadership, planning, and execution associated with this project. It takes a team to accomplish this type of success. I also want to thank Clint Perryman and Ricky Simpson of Collier County; Joe Hennelly and Jerry Henry of Philips & Jordan, Bernie Eastman of Eastman Aggregate; Nick Stewart of Stewart Mining; Steve Keehn, and Tara Brenner of Coastal Planning and Engineering; Roger Jacobson, City of Naples Code Enforcement and Harbor Manager, and all the Naples Police Officers who insured routes were followed and speed limits observed, and the Collier County Sheriff officers who did the same in the County.
This was a very controversial issue with the potential for fatal pitfalls. Many individuals were opposed, including some City Council members. I was committed to the project as the beaches needed sand, this was the best alternative with truck haul costing $16 million and dredging costing $32 million, and the risk reward analysis indicated that the project could be accomplished successfully. Fortunately it went extremely well.
Because of City Council’s concern, the City of Naples project was reduced from the six-year template to only provide enough sand to return to an 85 foot beach in Park Shore and 100 foot beach on the Naples beach, with a project cost reduction to $9.6 million. This means with normal erosion we will be revisiting the City beaches in two to three years. The County added sand to Vanderbilt Beach consistent with the six-year design authorized by FEMA for Tropical Storm Fay damages.
The economic impact on our local economy has been significant. Some 13,500 truckloads of sand were delivered to the Naples, Park Shore and Vanderbilt beaches. This represents over $2,500,000 paid to local truckers as many of the drivers were owner/operators. They purchased approximately 460,000 gallons of diesel fuel in Collier County costing in excess of $1,725,000. Some 317,000 tons of sand was purchased from Stewart Mining costing $2,700,000. Also, 60 jobs were created at the mine and from the contractors who renournished the beaches.
In addition, 12 local inspectors were hired by Collier County on a temporary basis to aid in construction inspections, sand quality control and quantity confirmation. Local companies also provided the surveys, material testing, turbidity monitoring and the Naples Police off-duty officers provided traffic coordination on the project adding an additional $400,000 to the local economy. When using a normal multiplier, the economic benefit to the local economy has been well in excess of $10,000,000. In addition to a wonderful new beach, the greatest accomplishment was over 1,380,000, accident free, safe miles driven by the truck drivers. This was accomplished by inspection of the trucks prior to starting the job, education of the drivers as to expectations, enforcement of speed limits and assigned routes and daily monitoring of the project by the entire team. My appreciation to all for a job well done.
Progress continues on the new park on the Gordon River and the conceptual plan is becoming final with a City Council approval on March 5th. A public meeting was held on January 14th from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. at City Hall, Council Chambers, 735 8th Street South. This meeting was a design charrette targeted to seasonal residents who were away during previous public meetings.
Please review the Park’s link on the City’s website at ww.naplesgov. com. Please mark the Gala date on your schedule for the evening of March 15th at the Park site located near Goodlette-Frank Road and Riverside Circle, adjacent to the Gordon River. If you are interested in an invitation, naming opportunities or have any questions, give me a call at 239.248.1550 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I am very excited about this opportunity to reach so many people in the community and encourage each of you to become involved with your local government as you deem appropriate. All ideas, suggestions or comments are welcome, please let me know.