As more of our Parish Family return to the area, it has become clear that some may not be aware of the changes and improvements we have made to the campus in order to create a safer space for both pedestrians and vehicles. This past Summer and Fall, our Parish Family’s patience was tested with the re-engineering of the Front Parking Lot and Access Road to Naples Park Elementary School. As you may have seen, this renovation has significantly increased the total amount of parking spaces by over 40 as well as created a clean and efficient way to park near the church. Hurricane Irma also assisted us, as it decimated a significant number of mature trees on our campus, including large oaks within the parking areas. These new spots should allow for parking within the lined and available spots, rather than on the roadways, which block emergency vehicles and other Parish Family members from entering the campus safely. In particular, the widened Access Road between the school and our church is not to be used for parking at any time as it is the primary access by fire trucks and EMS ambulances when an emergency call comes from the church.
Additionally, a brand new paved sidewalk was created between the parking lot in front of the school that goes directly between that lot and our church. It is completely separate from the access road, on the other side of the tennis courts. This walkway creates a completely safe way for all of us to park at the school and walk to church without being hit by the car traffic that now travels easily on the full two-lane Access Road. Please use this sidewalk if you decide to park on the school side of the fence.
These steps have been taken to keep you and our entire Parish Family safe. However, there is a small group of people that are disregarding these essential safety steps, endangering our Parish. In this year of Patience and Flexibility, it is important that we all work together to create the loving and embracing church we are supposed to represent to the world. That starts right here on the campus. Please ensure you choose a properly marked parking space when you arrive on campus. I understand that may mean you will have to park further away from the church. It may not be the most convenient to have to park in more distant locations like the school or our middle parking lot, but that additional walk could save someone’s life.
I understand that some Parish Family members’ frustration with leaving Mass may be influencing their attempts to park in these illegal locations. I have continuous communications with both the County Sheriff, who provides traffic management, and the Collier County Traffic Operations department in order to modify the traffic flow both at our exits and at the lights that impact the traffic flow on 111th Avenue North.
So, in an attempt to productively and positively implement a safe and joyous environment in our parking lots, I am authorizing our staff to place this Parish Mission message on the windshields of the cars illegally parked on our campus for the next two weekends. This will be a communication directly to those individuals, ensuring they understand that they are parked where it is a significant risk to the safety of our Parish Family. I am hopeful that with several weeks of this “gentle” communication, we will not have to take further action to protect and safeguard our Parish Family.
I thank all of you, who are in the vast majority, who understand this safety concern, and who do park in the proper locations and ensure we can all enjoy the love, mercy, and happiness that is the heart of our Catholic Faith.