Around Town: The time is now to choose your political party affiliation

DONNA FIALA

As many of us now know, thanks to the controversial choice of the date, Jan. 31 is now the Republican primary. Just so you know, you must be a registered Republican to vote in the primary. You cannot be an independent or registered as NPA (No Party Affiliation) because you will not be eligible to vote.

This is the time the Republicans pick a candidate to run in the presidential race, so be sure to make your voice heard. If you need to change your voting status from independent or NPA to Republican to be able to vote in this primary, it must be done by Jan. 3. If this is important to you, as it is to me, please don’t put it off. Call the elections office or look them up online. Do it now! This is too important an issue to “forget.”

• Most of you who follow any East Naples issues know that I am fighting hard to have the long-overdue (since 1997) community center built at Eagle Lakes Community Park. I’ve talked about it in other columns and noted that without a community center there is no one on duty full time at that park (except maintenance people mowing the lawn and caring for the upkeep of the park – which they do very well, I might add) for someone to go to if they are injured in a fall or hit with a ball, or the many other circumstances that originate in a park.

Also, without a staff member on hand, and no community center to house them, there are no summer programs at the park, no after school programs at the park, and none of the other youth friendly activities that occur in all other community parks in Collier County. Yes, you read that right. No other community park in Collier County is without a community center. Only Eagle Lakes! With the lion’s share of children of lesser means surrounding that area and no place to have programs for them, it’s really a sad state of affairs.

I discovered some grant money specifically targeting this market and this type of use, and after some “encouragement,” was able to get the parties needed to apply for, and receive this grant money. There also has been money set aside for this purpose, but never enough to do anything about a building, but now we can add that to the grant to move us closer to this much needed project. I’ve been thrilled to see the enthusiasm from people who love children, like Patti Holt from the Collier County Sheriff’s Office, Sheriff Kevin Rambosk himself, Ann Marie Foley, who used to work for the parks and recreation system, Sandy Santos, a retired parks ranger, the East Naples Kiwanis members, the East Naples Civic Association, and many, many more.

Next, I will be approaching the Winter Wine people in hopes they will help with this most worthy project (but don’t tell anyone yet – I haven’t spoken to them about this idea), by possibly adding a pool (most of the children in this area have never even seen a pool), and who knows, maybe even a fitness center. Immokalee has a lovely pool (and three community centers), River Park has a wonderful pool, Golden Gate has a marvelous pool, among others. I think it’s about time East Naples had a pool. The Marco YMCA has offered to conduct after school programs and summer camp programs for these children in East Naples if we can build a facility to house them. If you want to help, please contact me. We need you and your enthusiasm!

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