One thing that absolutely drives me crazy, and itâ€™s no different here in Naples
, is small town politics. You vote for politicians, because you feel that it is your civic duty, and expect that they will listen to the will of the people. Boy how wrong we are in our thinking!
Directly behind our lovely home, resides a beautiful Spanish style small shopping plaza (The Oaks Plaza) with a good array of businesses, including one of our favorite restaurants, Meson Ole
, a wonderful Spanish eatery. Not only is the food good, but it has been a favorite of ours because we can walk there in three minutes or so, making it extremely convenient. Well, that is all about to change. With the rapid rise in commercial real estate, small parcels like this plaza have become targets for the mega-stores and national chains who have the deep pockets and a price tag of $5,000,000 or so is but a mere pittance to them.
The plaza is surrounded by residential properties, including ours, and had been on the market for about a year, when along comes Walgreens
, who sees the chance to break away from their lease at The Naples Plaza, where they have been for years and years. Now I certainly canâ€™t blame them for their thinking of wanting to own, rather than rent, but all of a sudden, as an abutter of the property, I worry about the effect a big mega-chain store will have on the area and the effect it will have on the general landscape.
With an organized effort, many of the area residents attend and follow the Planning Board and City Council Meetings
and voice concerns with many of the Walgreens proposals, such as allowing the store to stay open 24 hours a day, a 24 hour prescription drive-thru, and such. The residents, including myself stood up and strongly voiced our concerns. We said that there was absolutely no need for a 24â€“hour store in a residential neighborhood and certainly no need for a 24â€“hour drive-thru.
No matter how hard we pleaded and what was said, in the end, a majority of the City Council turned a deaf ear toward us and voted for almost everything that Walgreens wanted, with the exception of allowing the store to stay open 24 hours a day. They did vote to allow them to stay open until midnight, and Iâ€™m sure that when no is looking, they will be back before the council to ask for the full 24 hour opening. (To me itâ€™s like college, when we were allowed to have women in the dorm rooms until 3 o'clock in the morning. Whatâ€™s the point?â€¦if you are going to let them stay that late you might as well let them stay all night). Iâ€™m sure Walgreens feels the same way. One of the city council men rationalized that if one life could be saved, it would be worth it. I told him that if Walgreens were coming to his back yard, he wouldnâ€™t vote the way he did and I asked did he really think that the Naples Community Hospital
was really releasing patients, in a life threatening situation, leave the emergence room to go get a prescription filled at 3 o'clock in the morning. The whole thing was not only small town politics, (you canâ€™t tell me that Walgreens
wasnâ€™t passing something around), but insanity as well!
Now Iâ€™m sure that youâ€™re wondering what all this has to do with eagles, and believe me if I were reading this, I would also. Here is the deal, I come out of my house one day recently and I happened to look up in a lone pine tree on what is now the Walgreens property and to my absolute amazement I see these two majestic creatures, a male and a female just sitting there, like they owned the place. I run for my camera to grab pictures of the two of them and my heart is racing on two fronts. First because it is a most magnificent sight and I want to capture it and secondly because if these two build a nest, there is no way the State will allow the plaza to be torn down and a Walgreens to be built. Eagles in Florida have a right away wherever they go, they are that prized.
Well, the long and short of it was that they stayed for a few hours and then soared off to some other big tree or somewhere else. And here I thought that we, (actually it would have been the birds), had beaten small town politics. Sadlyâ€¦not to be. I guess the only good news is that I will now be able to walk a few minutes to get all those prescriptions filled that my doctor makes me take.