State of the City – Oh What a Night

Baker Park ExhibitThe Prelude to a Park Gala held on March 15, 2014 was a magical night under the stars and full moon filled with wonderful surprises!

At the beginning of this evening, the park was called, “Naples Gordon River Park” and by the end of the night, the park was named the, “Baker Park” after philanthropists Jay and Patty Baker in celebration of their generous donation of $2 million. Flip and Gary West donated another $1 million for various project naming opportunities. By
the end of the evening, the community had contributed over $5.2 million for the new park. What can I say, but wow, I am so lucky to be a part of this community. I was so proud.
The open field of the future Baker Park was breathtakingly transformed into a “Gala” with a green, orange, and yellow color scheme. Everyone looked dapper and many guests sported green and white attire to celebrate the “lush greenery” of the future park. Over 400 people attended the Gala that night to support the City’s legacy and
last park on the bank of the Gordon River.

I send my sincere thanks to the Gala committee and City staff for transforming the site into something spectacular, exceeding everyone’s expectations. It all came together beautifully. As the twilight beckoned, the sun set in the west and the moon rose in the east, creating a picturesque scene and an illuminating light for the night. The moon, lighting, table decorations, stage and dance floor made the evening quite enchanting.

When guests arrived, they were directed to the red carpet leading to the check in tent where delectable hors d’ oeuvres and beverages awaited them. On display was the renderings of the new park as well as a one of kind diamond and gold reversible pendant for the live auction donated and designed by William Boyajian, owner, Port
Royal Jewelers called the, “Tree of Promise.”

The necklace represents the life of the park, it was breathtaking. After the reception under the tent, guests were invited to take their seats and were instantly greeted by the smooth sounds of Joe Marino and All The King’s Men Band. The program began with a conceptual animation of the future Baker Park presented by Matthew Kragh, President and CEO , MHK Architecture & Planning, who designed the park pro bono. Matthew organized a team of talented people in the landscaping, engineering and
architectural areas of expertise for the design of the park along with members of the public through 23 public meetings.

The park’s animated rendition received rave reviews. Matthew was presented with an award (Park Designer Extraordinaire) for his contributions of time and service to the park. Many thanks for the countless hours his firm expended on the park plan.

Celebrity auctioneer, Councilman Bill Barnett, auctioned off the Tree of Promise pendant for $20,000, wow!

What can I say about Delores for chairing and planning the Gala? Thank you, for the long days and sleepless nights. Your hard work and dedication to the community show in everything you do, you are much appreciated! She was presented with a beautiful crystal vase for her service. At the end of the night, Delores treated guests with a fabulous fireworks display which artfully painted the sky.

The engineering and permitting process now begins for the park. To take the concepts to reality, City Council will be requested to make multiple decisions along the way and the City’s residents will continue to be involved.
The following naming opportunities are still available for you to become a part of this legacy park:

Baker Park Naming Rights












In addition, the following are available:

  • Picnic Pavilion Structures (4) Includes picnic table, roofed open air structure
  • Filter Marsh Watershed (North) (1) North Filter Marsh Watershed / 20,000 square feet
  • Walkways (Concrete Pathway Section) (15) Section of Concrete Park Dedicated Walkway
  • Adult Reading Area Tables (6) Game Tables with fixed seats (each)
  • Outdoor Dining Table Sets (20) Sedona 48” Cast Aluminum Outdoor Dining + Umbrella

A special thanks to everyone who contributed to the Park Gal and those who have supported the park since. If you are interested in contributing to any other naming opportunities, please contact me by calling 239.248.1550 or send me an email at JS Visit the Baker Park’s website at


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 contact me.

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