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The residents of Isles of Capri are gathering signatures on a petition to ask Collier County to consider expanding their neighborhood park.

Capri Park is built on a single residential lot and contains a single bocce court, one swing, a small playground apparatus and two rocking horses. The park opened in 2003 and is the sole public recreational facility for families in the immediate community. In season, residents total approximately 2,000.

Although recognized as the smallest park in Collier County, it is one of the busiest, especially in season due to the organized Capri Bocce League. The league uses the court almost daily during the winter months. There are 16 organized teams (approximately 100 players) who play against one another in two divisions beginning the first week of January and concluding with a single elimination play-off in mid-March. Beginning in early fall and extending through late spring, residents in the community use the court for un-organized play, just for practice and fun. Year-round residents and their families use the park daily.

Each year since the park’s opening, its use has expanded. Most residents are not within easy walking distance to the park. Many of the parks’ users are seniors. There are also very young children who have to be transported to the park to use the playground facilities. The neighbors have been very lenient in not reporting illegal parking on their private property or calling towing services to have vehicles removed. The only place for residents to park has been on a private lot or in the county right-of-way. This has often created a potential dangerous situation as the streets on the island are very narrow.

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The owners of the lots adjacent to the park on either side are now very interested in selling their properties. If and when they do, there will be no place for park users to put their vehicles.

Recognizing that the mission of the Collier County Parks and Recreation Department as stated is to “benefit the well-being of the people, community and environment of Collier County … and to stay connected ... ” the Capri Bocce League coordinator and his secretary met in early April with Barry Williams, parks director, and Derrick Garby, park’s supervisor, to discuss the future of the. It was noted that there were several properties in close proximity to the park for sale. Williams suggested that a meeting with Toni Mott be held to discuss the feasibility of the county’s consideration of property immediately adjacent to the left side of the park. This meeting was held on June 5. As a result of the discussion, Williams invited representatives from Capri to meet with his advisory board on June 26 to share their concerns and ask for advice. It was advised by this board that the community be petitioned as to discern their interest in a park expansion.

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Currently a petition is being circulated and should be completed by the end of August for submission to the Collier County Board of Commissioners. Thus far, the responses are numerous, in spite of the time of year, and they have all been affirmative.

“I appreciate your zeal in the community for consideration of an expansion of our neighborhood park there,” wrote Williams in an email outlining the procedures required for the park project. Williams has offered his services to guide the community in their request for park expansion.

Contact Ann Hall at ahall7911@coconutttele.net.

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