Capri Connection: All roads lead to Isles of Capri

Ann Hall

Occasionally, the question arises. “What happened to Isles of Capri Road?” It seems as though many who have lived here for a number of years remember when the road leading to the Isles of Capri, and then on to Marco Island was called that. Currently this major thoroughfare is named Collier Boulevard.

This road has had quite the history, according to the county records. It is also recorded to have caused much confusion. Businesses along the route complained of vendors being confused when delivering products and supplies to their locations. One such business claimed that patrons found it difficult to find individual establishments along the highway by the sheer fact that the Isles of Capri community was so close and some drove all the way down and on to Capri looking for their establishment. Residents along the road echoed the problems of visitors trying to find their homes. Some resorted to adding clarifiers to their postal addresses.

Jenny Weitz, left, and Shelly Clayton, descendants of Isles of Capri developer Leland L. “Doc” Loach share photographs of “Doc” (photo on the right) and his son Robbin Allen Biene, during a visit to Capri several years ago. Bien is Shelly’s father, “Doc’s” son prior to “Doc” marrying Rosanna Loach.

In August, 1999, the board directed staff to poll the property and business owners along CR and SR 951 from Immokalee Road south to the Judge Jolley Bridge to determine which street name was favored by the majority of businesses and property owners along the route. What made this road somewhat confusing was that the 14.5 mile segment from U.S. 41 to Immokalee Road was owned and maintained by the county, hence CR 951. The 7 mile segment from U.S. 41 to the Jolley Bridge was owned and maintained by the State, hence SR 951. The remaining seven-plus mile segment south of the Jolley Bridge extending to the end of the road within the Marco Island city limits was designated Collier Boulevard (North and South).

A survey was sent out on Nov. 1, 1999 to a total of 753 business and property owners along County and State Route 951. This survey invited owners to indicate whether or not they would support the renaming of the road, and if so, what they would prefer that it be called. There was a 60 percent return of the surveys. Of those, 80 percent favored the renaming of 951. A majority (52 percent) favored the name Collier Boulevard.

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Collier County Staff recommended the name change to Collier Boulevard given the survey preference results, and considering that south of the Jolley Bridge, the roadway was already named such. It was felt that this move would “retain continuity and minimize the need to re-address properties south of the Jolley Bridge.”

In order to resolve the issues and clear up the confusion, the Collier County Board of Commissioners adopted the resolution to officially rename Isles of Capri Road, Collier Boulevard. This is not to be confused with CR 952, Capri Boulevard. Capri Boulevard comes off of Collier Boulevard at the intersection of SR 951 Collier Boulevard two miles north of Marco Island.

In the county records it was found that Rosemary Loach Messmore, daughter of Isles of Capri developer “Doc” Loach and his wife Rosanna had submitted a personal letter asking that the County Commissioners to consider renaming State Road 951 “L.L.L. Parkway” or “Three L Causeway,” or just “Isle of Capri Road, which it has been for years.”

“Doc was a fine man and not only helped South East Florida to grow, but he actually built State Road 951,” wrote Messmore in her letter to the Board of County Commissioners on Nov. 20, 1999.

Doc Loach bought the property, built a road, paid for the road, then gave it to the State of Florida,” wrote Messmore. “There might not have been a road that served the population of Marco if Doc Loach had not persevered and built his own road beside an old railroad track that Henry Flagler had built so that he could develop mangroves now called the Isles of Capri,” Messmore wrote in her letter.

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