by Tom Maish, Chair of the Vision Committee
In February the Friends had an appointment at the Park with Carmen Monroy, Director Southwest District, and Mark Clark, Access Engineer, both from Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT).
After seeing the traffic and parking along side of US-41 they had a clear understanding of our concern.
The Friends’ objective at the meeting was to demonstrate the need for FDOT to design, fund, and construct the decal lane, thereby saving the Park Service the estimated cost of $1.0 million!
All requests to FDOT are first required to be approved by the Collier Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO). Mrs. Monroy then suggested she would set a meeting for the Friends’ to explain the proposal to Ms. Lucilla Ayer, Executive Director of the MPO. Coincidently the meeting occurred on the same day as the meeting with Donald Forgione and Staff at District Four. We split our committee with Francine leading the delegation to District HQ and John Kaiser joining Tom Maish at the MPO meeting in Naples.
The MPO meeting was attended by Lucy Ayer and Suzanne Lex, Community Liaison for FDOT.
John showed the Power Point presentation prepared by Patrick Higgins to lay the ground work for our request. Both ladies had many questions and some advice for us.
No promises were given, but Lucy Ayer told us to persist in telling our story to gain public support for our Vision. Other suggestions were:
- to stress the unsafe conditions of parking along the berm of US-41 with people having to walk along or cross the highway.
- tell how our construction of the Visitor’s pavilion will be an economic generator for Eastern Collier.
- how the decal lane will improve the flow of through traffic on this busy highway.
John and I came away with instructions to gather more evidence to present to the MPO and FDOT. We also learned of specific
programs that could be sources of funding and that there is a real possibility that the MPO and FDOT will be sympathetic to our need.