NAPLES — About a dozen people attended a rally on the courthouse steps this morning to support the historic Ted Smallwood Store in Chokoloskee.
"This is a portal to the past,"said rally organizer and musician J. Robert. "That's what the Smallwood Store is all about. Once its gone, its gone forever."
Supporters held signs asking Judge Hugh Hayes to "Save SW Florida History for our Children."
Mallory McMillin, daughter of Smallwood Store executive director Lynn Smallwood McMillim, said it was amazing to see so many people at the rally.
"Its kind of surreal," she said. "I never thought this would happen."
A court hearing is scheduled to start around 9:15 a.m. today to discuss whether property owner Florida Georgia Grove should reopen Maime Street and restore access to the century-old store and its neighbors.
Collier County and the Smallwood Store sued property owners earlier this year for access. The county contends the road is a public road and has been maintained by county.
Gary Blackman, managing partner at Florida Georgia Grove, took the stand earlier this morning.
Blackman is the defense's first witness and has said county officials told him the road was not a public road or publicly maintained.
Blackman said he told Smallwood Store officials he planned to close the road and pave an alternative access road. Blackman said he made it clear it would be a permanent closure.
"Obviously, it was going to be permanent if we were going to pay $100,000 to pave it," he told the court.
The plantiffs rested their case after calling one witness this morning.