Capri church parking construction takes place on ‘island time’

Ann Hall

On Thursday, April 30, seven months ago, Capri Christian Church closed the deal on the purchase of two additional residential lots close to the church.

The lots have been rezoned through Collier County for non-residential use as overflow parking areas. They will not be paved lots, but will be landscaped and laid out as a parking area made of rock and crushed shell in keeping with an island motif.

In addition to these two lots, a couple who are members of the church also purchased a house adjacent to the church on East Hilo and donated it for additional parking use. It was hoped that during the summer, all three lots would have been reconfigured for overflow parking prior to the onset of the 2016 arrival of winter residents and guests.

This has not happened yet.

To date, two of the lots are nearing completion. The drainage structure has been completed, a rock foundation has been poured, and crushed shell should be laid soon. Next, landscape will be installed.

“I am hoping it will be ready next week,” pastor Curt Ayers told the congregation at the services on Nov. 29.

The third lot is not yet under construction. Things don’t always happen on anticipated schedules.

“Remember, you are on island time,” say so many of the long-term residents who have watched construction work here. Many blame the slow pace of construction projects on county permitting. There is nearly always a delay when a property is zoned for residential, and is being reassigned to commercial zoning. In addition, with so much construction taking place at this time, there are longer wait times for construction crews busy on larger jobs.

Whatever the hold-up may be, Ayers is happy that the church has a parking problem.

“It means our attendance is up and climbing,” said Ayers.

“What a problem to have,” said Dale Williamson, a member of the Elders.

It wasn’t too many years ago that a small group of 11 islanders decided they needed a non-denominational church in which to gather and worship. This group had been taking turns holding worship services in their homes until they outgrew their meeting areas.

On Nov. 13, 1977 they gained permission to meet in the Capri Community Center, hired a part-time clergy, and enjoyed the peace and tranquility of island worship with families, friends and neighbors. The late Isles of Capri developer, A. L.“Doc”Loach, and his wife, Rosanna, were among the members of this first congregation.

The church quickly outgrew this facility as well, and purchased land on residential Island number two, built a real church, hired a pastor and began services in the new building in 1982. There were 43 members present when the cornerstone of the original building was laid on July 25 that same year.

The church has continued to grow and expand continuously for decades. Additional land has been purchased for buildings and parking. The number of services has increased during season from two to four -- Saturday at 5:30 p.m., Sunday at 8:30, 10 and 11:15 a.m.)

Although seating capacity has been a challenge, parking has become a much greater hurdle to attain. Volunteers have used personal golf carts to shuttle attendees from their cars parked elsewhere on Capri’s business isle.

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