To the Editor:
When I first visited my great-uncle and aunt Crowninshield as a child, Gilchirst Avenue was the beautiful center of the town of Boca Grande. My family have been residents here for three generations, so memories go back to the pre-bridge and therefore pre-car and parking years.
Until quite recently, Gilchrist Avenue was still a lovely stretch; but it has now evolved into something like a haphazard and dangerous parking lot, largely because of the expansion of the Methodist Church and its function hall.
This is a result of neglect by governmental agencies and an influx of visitors who have taken to parking all over this county property when there is ample designated parking nearby – God forbid anyone should walk a few minutes!
In the early 1900s, the Boca Grande Land Development Company deeded to the county a number of properties, including the entrance boulevard, named after Albert W. Gilchrist, our state’s governor from 1909-1913 (wouldn’t it be fitting to celebrate the centenary of his governorship by restoring “his” avenue?). In 1911, Carl Rust Parker, noted landscape architect with the Fredrick Law Olmsted firm (designers of Central Park in New York City), was commissioned to lay out the Gilchrist Parkway as a stately opening to the village of Boca Grande. Parker’s vision of native tropical plants and palm trees was implemented. Sometime later, my great aunt and, doubtless, her many friends, donated time and money to maintain and improve the handsome avenue.
The current, recent, accelerating degradation of the county-owned parkway on an unsightly sandy parking lot has made it a potential threat to residents, visitors and children. Of utmost concern is the direction in which the situation is heading – the numerous vehicles of various types and sizes randomly crossing the median will surely lead to accidents someday, and potential litigation and questions of liability will certainly follow.
All stakeholders realize there is a serious problem brewing here. Please help return Gilchrist Avenue to its rightful condition, in conformity with the vision of Parker, Olmsted and Louse Crowninshield and friends. Surely a combination of well-thought-out streetscaping and safe parking will be beneficial to visitors and residents alike, and will prevent a tragic accident.
L. Davis HammondBoca Grande
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