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Sidewalk projects bring plenty of sharp opinions to Naples Park

Neighborhood between Vanderbilt Drive and U.S. 41 in North Naples
Sidewalk projects bring controversy to Naples Park
Posted at 9:31 PM, Jan 24, 2024
and last updated 2024-01-24 22:49:58-05

NAPLES, Fla. — With safety in mind, Collier County is bringing sidewalks to Naples Park but many residents are not excited about this change.

Naples Park is located between US 41 and Vanderbilt Drive, both popular roads year-round. Michael Tisch, sidewalk project manager, says their research found that there have been 14 crashes involving pedestrians or bicyclists since 2018.

"I can't tell you how many times, myself, I've been driving, and I go to pass one of these landscape trucks and unfortunately, I don't see somebody walking the other direction," said Stephen Buchalter, a Naples Park realtor and homeowner. "I know there have been several injuries in Naples Park from people getting hit and I don't want to see that happen again.”

However, people like Sally Ryan who are against the projects, say it is not busy enough to justify the added concrete.

“The foot traffic doesn't warrant the sidewalks, and in fact, our neighbor told us that the studies prove that the population in Naples Park is actually going down not up," said Ryan. For instance on this street, right here on 106th, they painted over the crosswalk so obviously they don't think there's enough foot traffic on this street where they want to put sidewalks for a pedestrian crossing."

One Naples Park resident, Chris Carpenter, conducted a survey that found 86% of the 207 residents surveyed were against the project.

Between the two sidewalk projects, people here are having a hard time finding a middle ground.

“We have the opportunity to enhance safety, give people more places to walk, and also it provides a place for the residents of Naples Park to actually come out of their subdivision and be able to walk on the sidewalk on their side of the street,” said Tisch.

The county hosted a public information meeting on Thursday and will continue to take feedback on the projects. As of now, the Naples Park sidewalks are expected to begin construction in April and the Vanderbilt Drive sidewalk is anticipated to begin in May or June.

More information on these projects can be found here.