Quality of Life
» The historic downtown, which includes a fishing pier and views of the Gulf of Mexico and Naples Bay, features the Crayton Cove and Tin City districts. The restaurant and gallery scene is vibrant, with upscale dining and shops along Third Street South, Fifth Avenue South and the Bayfront neighborhood. The downtown hosts multiple festivals and events, from the Downtown Naples Festival of the Arts in March to New Year’s Eve fireworks over the Naples Pier.
Naples Botanical Garden
» Parts of Collier County are as remote and wild as any land in the state. The Big Cypress National Preserve takes up most of the county’s southeast corner. Everglades National Park extends into the southern part of the county, as well. Some of the only remaining habitat for the Florida panther is in Collier County. Conservation groups are working to create a panther habitat corridor through Collier that would link panther conservation lands in Lee and Hendry counties. The area is also popular with birders.
» The Conservancy of Southwest Florida is an environmental policy group founded in 1964 that has more than 5,000 members. The group operates a facility in Naples that includes a Nature Center and Wildlife Clinic along with space for educational and research activities. The facility recently underwent a $20-million renovation.
» This year, the county’s Freedom Park won a “project of the year” award from the Florida Association of County Engineers and Road Superintendents. The park has 3,800 feet of boardwalks, two miles of walking trails and more than 10,000 recently planted plants and trees.
Part of Louise Nevelson’s “Dawn’s Forest,” 1986, painted balsa-plywood at the Naples Museum of Art.
» The Philharmonic Center for the Arts is a major cultural destination in southwest Florida, with a 1,425-seat main hall, a 282-seat theater and the Naples Museum of Art. Under the direction of Myra Janco Daniels, the complex employs 445 full- and part-time employees. The museum recently added a significant collection of sculptures by Louise Nevelson, called “Dawn’s Forest.” Now part of the museum’s permanent collection, the Nevelson sculptures hadn’t been shown in a museum before.
» The 170-acre Naples Botanical Garden has a children’s garden, a Brazilian garden and a Caribbean garden. Gardens in the works include a Florida garden, an Asian garden and a water garden. The garden reopened last year after a major renovation.
» The Golisano Children’s Museum of Naples is under construction in the North Collier Regional Park. The $25-million museum is scheduled to open in 2012 and will include a giant indoor banyan tree, which cost $500,000.
The Golisano Children’s Museum of Naples is under construction.
» Naples has been trying to entice the Chicago Cubs to relocate the team’s spring training facilities from Arizona.
» The Naples Zoo at Caribbean Gardens features a lush setting with lions, kangaroos, monkeys, lemurs, tigers, leopards, and other animals. The zoo’s giraffe habitat is to open in 2012.
• Taxes and Government
» Collier County ranks fourth among Florida’s 67 counties in total taxies levied per capita. Collier County bonds carry an “AA” Fitch rating. According to an analysis by the Naples Daily News, the county carries more debt per person than every other county in Florida except for Duval and Miami-Dade.
» In 2009, Collier County ranked 11th lowest among Florida’s 67 counties in crime per 100,000 population.
» K-12: Of the county’s 50 elementary, middle and high schools, 21 received A’s, 6 B’s, 11 C’s and 2 D’s. One school received an F for the 2009-10 school year. SAT scores for the county’s high school students were one point above the state average in reading and math. Slightly less than half of all high school seniors took the college-entry test.