Wednesday, July 31, 2002
Naples man denied request to fly Marine Corps flag
of The Naples Daily News
By MIREIDY FERNANDEZ
Patrick Purnell's appeal to fly two flags
from his North Naples residence fell on deaf ears Tuesday.
The three-member IslandWalk Homeowners
Association's Architectural Control Committee unanimously shot down Purnell's
request to fly both the American flag and Marine Corps flag from the front
of his residence.
government, organizations or ones that depicted
The board said allowing Purnell to fly
both flags would set a bad example. Homeowners Association bylaws state
residents can fly only one American flag.
During an appeal hearing Tuesday, Patrick
Purnell listens to arguments why he shouldn't be allowed to fly the Marine
Corps flag outside of his IslandWalk home. Dan Wagner/Staff
Under the rules, the board said, it couldn't
allow residents to fly flags representing branches of
|During an appeal hearing Tuesday, Patrick Purnell listens to arguments
why he shouldn't be allowed to fly the Marine Corps flag outside of his
"We're afraid of the precedent it would
set for other types of flags or for every type of flag ... where do you
stop?" said William Shannon, a Vietnam veteran who sits on IslandWalk's
board of directors. "This would be a violation of the restrictions and
I won't allow that."
Purnell said he was shocked that the committee
had taken such an unbending position.
|If Purnell doesn't stop flying the Marine
Corps flag, the committee vows to seek a court injunction against him.
Purnell's request to fly both flags was denied in February. Tuesday's hearing
was an appeal to the first ruling.
A crowd of about 60 people, mostly homeowners,
applauded the board's decision, which came immediately after Purnell read
from a prepared statement, giving his reasons why he should be entitled
to fly both flags.
Following the committee's vote,
|William Shannon with the IslandWalk Association's Architectural
Control Committee explains his position, saying he plans to uphold and
stand by the committee rules.
"It's disgraceful ... I'm absolutely surprised,"
said Purnell, 41, who's a retired New Jersey police officer. "I asked them
to consider the climate in this country today — that we're at war. These
people don't appreciate what our service people are doing for us."
The main reason why Purnell said he was
hoping the committee would make an exception on his behalf is because his
son, 22-year-old Brian, serves in the Marine Corps. The proud father said
he began displaying both flags on Sept. 11.
William Shannon with the IslandWalk Association's
Architectural Control Committee explains his position, saying he plans
to uphold and stand by the committee rules. Dan Wagner/Staff
It wasn't until January that he received
a letter from the homeowners association asking him to take down the Marine
flag. Other letters followed when Purnell continued flying both flags.
Earlier this month, he received a final letter from the association stating
he would be faced with a court order if he didn't stop flying the Marine
"My flying of the Marine Corps flag was
never intended to create a confrontational atmosphere in our community,"
Purnell told the crowd. "In fact, for four years prior to Sept. 11, I proudly
displayed the flag on traditional flag-flying holidays and when my son
was home on leave."
After Purnell read his statement, some
in the audience, including war veterans from across Collier County, cheered
One person who wasn't enthusiastic about
Purnell's attempt to keep flying both flags was committee member Charles
Hathaway, who said his job was to uphold and enforce the association's
rules. Hathaway said making exceptions isn't something the board is interested
Reacting to the board's position, Jerry
Schaub, an IslandWalk homeowner for the past year, turned teary-eyed and
expressed his disgust over the decision.
"We're at war," said Schaub, 67, an Air
Force veteran. "I can't believe we're looking at this issue when we have
so many people fighting a war for us."
Others reacted also, like Geno Egiziad
— a former Marine who has lived at the 2,000-home IslandWalk community
for three years. He contends board members turn the other cheek when it
comes to the numerous homeowners who are flying bunny flags and other holiday
flags. He said the committee's vote reassured him of what he already knew.
"I knew right from the beginning that this
board isn't patriotic," said Egiziad, 80.
"I think the ruling is the right ruling,"
said Loccisano, 66. "We've got to go by the law. Everybody has people in
the military. We only have one flag ... the U.S. flag and that's the one
we should all fly."
|But Ed and Karen Farrington felt differently.
The couple said the board was justified in its decision because after all,
rules are rules.
"One thing will lead to another and if
(the committee) doesn't enforce a rule, people will always want exceptions
for their own interests," Karen Farrington said.
Homeowners Rocco Loccisano and Elaine Harnett
|Patrick Purnell reads from a prepared statement to the panel and
audience at Tuesday's appeal hearing.
Added Harnett: "It was a fair decision.
In a democracy, you must abide by the laws."
One homeowner, 73-year-old Tom Macchia,
a former Marine, suggested the board change the association's bylaws.
"The biggest shock for me at the meeting
was the amount of people who showed up to oppose (Purnell) flying the flag,"
Board members said changing the rules is
out of the question. The board of directors is made up of and controlled
by members representing the developer. IslandWalk is run by Southwest Property
Shannon said residents won't get control
of the board for another year. Once that happens, it would be up to a new
board, comprised of homeowners, to decide if IslandWalk's bylaws should
Purnell wasn't sure how to react to Tuesday's
defeat. As to whether he would take down the Marine flag, he said:
"I don't know what I'm going to do. As
a man of principle, it's a tough decision to make."