Q: Naples is the most beautiful place in Florida. The landscaping is gorgeous. I live in Pelican Marsh in North Naples and I don't know why there is no landscaping surrounding it on Airport Road or Vanderbilt Beach Road. Can you find out why? I have asked several people, including the city and can't get an answer.
— Dianne D., Naples
Q: Are there any plans in the works to have any landscaping work done on the Vanderbilt Beach Road medians between U.S. 41 and Airport-Pulling Road? They look terrible compared to the other beautiful medians in Naples. Thanks.
— Paula Brock, North Naples
Q: As a part-time resident, we are always enamoured with the landscaping on private properties and roadway medians in Naples. As Santa Barbara Boulevard is a major road, what is the latest status on landscaping the medians? Thanks.
— Andrew Golis, Naples
Q: When can we expect landscaping to begin on Collier Boulevard north of 41 to I-75? Thanks.
— Ed Farrell, Naples
A: Sometimes the grass really is greener on the other side of town, but there usually is a reason for it.
Basically, economic necessities have changed the way medians are landscaped in Collier County. If county budget constraints exclude median landscaping, residents can opt to pay for it themselves. In other words, you have to spend more green to get more green.
Although the specific median areas in question may have changed, the answer from Collier County government basically remains the same: The county's Landscape Beautification Master Plan is unfunded, but private property owners and homeowners associations can opt to tax themselves for landscaping improvements by creating a special taxing district for a specific area.
"Collier County Growth Management Division appreciates public interest in adding landscaping along the county roadways such as the portions of Airport Road, Collier Boulevard, Santa Barbara Boulevard and Vanderbilt Beach Road mentioned in the questions that you provided. At this time, funding is not available for new landscaping," said Connie Deane, community liaison for Growth Management.
"If communities wish to landscape, it can be done through the creation of a Municipal Service Taxing Unit (MSTU) or Municipal Service Benefit Unit (MSBU)."
An MSTU handles capital improvements that typically require continued maintenance. An MSBU is a special assessment or one-time benefit for improvements without maintenance requirements. Either option may be created by a citizen-sponsored petition or a voter referendum, or can independently be created by the county commission. For information on the process and steps necessary to create an MSTU or MSBU, click here.
In addition to paying for improvements, MSTUs have the ability to petition county commissioners to add the new maintenance responsibilities to the county's program. If a community or group is ready to landscape and maintain improvements, another option is a landscape maintenance agreement, Deane said.
Proposals for the creation of MSTUs have already been made at two of the areas asked about above: Vanderbilt Beach Road between U.S. 41 and Airport-Pulling Road, and Airport-Pulling between Vanderbilt Beach and Immokalee roads, Deane said. Other candidates include Radio Road from Santa Barbara Boulevard to Davis Boulevard, Davis Boulevard from County Barn Road to Collier Boulevard, and Pine Ridge Road from Logan Boulevard to Collier Boulevard.
Citizens interested in these landscaping options should contact county staff in the Alternative Transportation Modes Landscape Section at 239-252-8192 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Information is also available on the county's website, www.colliergov.net/ATM.
Landscape master plan
On April 22, 2003, county commissioners approved the Collier County Landscape Beautification Master Plan, which sets "a base level of landscaping" for new road construction projects. This basic landscaping includes clean median backfill with landscape-quality soil, Bahia grass, electrical and irrigation sleeving, curbing, and brick pavers at the median ends, the master plan mandates.
The master plan requires "Type B" landscaping improvements on all six-lane arterial roads, budget permitting, and permits "Type B" and "Type C1" landscaping improvements for medians. "Type B" improvements replace the basic Bahia grass with St. Augustine sod, and shrubs, groundcover, flowering trees and planting beds span the median. "Type C1" improvements include all "Type B" median elements with the addition of roadside plantings.
Roadside plantings have two levels: "Type C1," which contains roadside canopy trees and/or palms irrigated with a bubbler irrigation system, and Bahia grass planted on the edges; and "Type C2," which contains all of the components of "Type C1" in addition to roadside shrubs, flowering trees, planting beds and/or St. Augustine grass.
"Because of the current drought conditions and narrowed medians, floratam sod is no longer being planted in the medians, and in most instances is being replaced by mulch and bedding plants," according to the master plan's executive summary. "Budget constraints have resulted in an elimination of side of the road trees which were further restricted due to limited right of way competing for space with needed utilities."
Dairy Queen landmark
As reported last week, Dairy Queen is opening a new Naples location at the site of Ric's Café & Grill, which is closing this month. The question is what will become of DQ's classic red A-frame that has been a Naples landmark since at least the mid-1950s?
Do you have memories to share about going to the longtime Dairy Queen location at 410 Ninth St. N.? What are your thoughts about the iconic structure? Send me a note at email@example.com.
Here are some comments readers made about the local landmark on one of last week's "In the Know" columns online:
■ "So disappointed about the DQ closing. I used to take my kids there every day on the way home from the beach. Also made many stops there after watching the sunset. The A-frame building is an absolute icon in our town."
■ "How can you move the Dairy Queen. It has been here forever????"
■ "What a bummer to hear the Dairy Queen will be moving. (Used to go there as a kid. I agree, Dixie, that building IS an icon in Naples. Might have to take my kids there before they move."
■ "Can't believe it about DQ. Parents would take us there after church (when we behaved, I suppose!) way back in the '70s. Have been taking our own kids there after beach days ever since they were born. As a Naples native, it makes me sad."
■ "Hearing that DQ is moving made me feel sick to my stomach. Keep a DQ in that location and open another at the new location. Don't care how close the 2 are together, that DQ is one of the last landmarks of this town."
Have a local question? Email it with your name and city of residence to firstname.lastname@example.org.
"In the Know" is published Mondays and Wednesdays in the Naples Daily News. Find a complete archive of "In the Know" columns at naplesnews.com/intheknow.