FLYING "OLD GLORY" ?
 
North Naples man denied request to fly Marine Corps flag 
Article Courtesy of The Naples Daily News
Wednesday, July 31, 2002
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. 


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 IslandWalk home.
government, organizations or ones that depicted holiday celebrations. 

"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." 

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.
Purnell said he was shocked that the committee had taken such an unbending position. 

"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 flag.

"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 him on. 

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 in. 

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. 

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 agreed. 
 

Patrick Purnell reads from a prepared statement to the panel and audience at Tuesday's appeal hearing. 
"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." 

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," Macchia said. 

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 Management. 

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 be amended. 

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." 

 
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