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1425 Creech Road, Naples, FL
NAPLES — Residents near Monday’s rally at a women’s clinic had their own message for protesters — ‘Stay off the grass!’
Homeowners say tire marks and broken sprinklers are normal casualties of big protests at Planned Parenthood, the Creech Road clinic set at the corner of an otherwise residential neighborhood. With few public parking areas nearby, protesters often pull onto the grass in front of homes.
After recent publicity that the clinic would begin offering abortions on Monday, the neighborhood prepared for an onslaught.
“I just laid this sod last week. That was my only concern,” said Rebecca Walker, 45, as she stood outside her home on nearby 14th Street North.
Like several other neighbors in the area, Walker taped off the area around her yard with ribbon.
The crowds — and the cars — never panned out.
Parking solutions were well planned by protesters, and enforcement was highly visible.
Organizers guided their protesters to an available parking lot off U.S. 41, where a blue minivan shuttled them back to Creech Road.
Naples police cruisers sat at nearby intersections and officers reminded drivers that yards and driveways were off limit. At one point, cruisers blocked both ends of Rordon Avenue, which parallels Creech, allowing only residents to pass.
Other drivers parked on a curb adjacent to the clinic, near a small plaza of stores.
For businessman Richard Wentworth, that posed its own problems.
Owner of Richard’s Shaver Repair, which deals in electric shavers, Wentworth, 67, said his customers usually park by the curb instead of in the plaza’s tight parking lot.
When customers called on Monday, “I told them what was going on, and they elected to come tomorrow,” he said.
And with the announcement by protesters that they would return each week, Wentworth wondered if every Monday would be the same.
“So Mondays could be pretty slow from now on,” he chuckled.
Overall, residents were pleasantly surprised that a smaller-than-expected crowd showed up for the day.
And regardless of beliefs, politics or party, they say, the message remains the same.
“It’s not a matter of abortion versus no abortion, said Craig Thiel, 53, of 14th Street North. “It’s a matter of keeping them off your sprinklers.”