HOA - Parents angry over association's 'hasty' decision to move bus stop 

Article Courtesy of the Naples Daily News
Posted Sunday, September 1, 2002

Parents of a North Naples upscale neighborhood are furious about what they say was a hasty decision adopted by their homeowners association without first consulting property owners. 

About a dozen children and parents protested Saturday near the gates of Hawksridge, a community comprising single family homes and condominiums, denouncing a decision taken by the Hawksridge Homeowners Association. 

Parents on Saturday said that given the recent rash of nationwide child abductions, they don't feel their children are safe having to wait for the bus so close to the busy Airport Road thoroughfare. 

The association moved the bus stop in December and parents have been fighting the decision ever since. 

The three-member board unanimously approved moving the school bus stop from inside the community about two blocks away from Airport-Pulling Road to a wooded section near the entrance and exit gates. 

"The children are not visible to anybody within the entire community," said Carolyn Odell, 44, whose 10-year-old daughter, Becky, attends Poinciana Elementary. "It poses an additional risk that's unnecessary. Why put our kids out here where they can't be seen?" 

A petition drive started by homeowners in December that opposed the bus stop change was rejected by the board in early August, parents said. 

From left, Becky Odell, 10, Dezree MacDonough, 7, and Maxine Hingley, 11, hold signs to protest the moving of their bus stop in the Hawksridge community in North Naples. In December, the homeowner's association sent a letter to the Collier County School Board saying that the bus stop had moved from well inside the gated community to near the main gate, a move that Hawksridge parents say endangers their children.

Attempts to reach the homeowners association for comment were unsuccessful. 

Holding a poster sign that read "Safety is first priority," 10-year-old Benjamin MacDonough displayed his dissatisfaction with the current bus stop. 

"We're hidden and there are a lot of puddles when it rains," Benjamin said. "I'm scared to wait here because some people can get abducted. I just want the bus stop moved back." 

Children from Hawksridge attend Poinciana or Sea Gate elementary schools, Gulfview Middle and Naples High. 

For nearly 10 years since 1992 the school bus stop was located about two blocks from the gates. Parents contend that last December members of the homeowners association without legitimate reason sent a letter to the Collier County School Board with a notification stating that the bus stop had been moved. 

"They changed the bus stop and no one knew anything about it," said Darien Butterworth, 42. "These people (association members) are sneaky people and they shouldn't be on the board. I think they feel they can run the neighborhood and take issues into their own hands." 

Butterworth, whose two children, 13-year-old Carey and 12-year-old Madison, attend Gulfview Middle, said she doesn't approve that her kids have to wait for the bus so close to Airport Road. 

"There's too much traffic coming in and out of here all day long," she said. " 

John Gallagher said he's afraid his two school-age girls, Isabelle, 9, and Julianne, 7, could be kidnapped right from the premises. Gallagher said he recently learned there are two registered sexual predators in North Naples within blocks of Hawksridge ZIP code. 

According to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement World Wide Web site, the two sexual predators who reside within the 34105 ZIP code are John Milcetich of 4770 Europa Drive and John Thomson of 343 Mel Jen Drive. 

"One of (the predators) lives just a few blocks away," said Gallagher, 42. "With all the abductions going on, that's my main concern. It's a matter of safety." 

Isabelle Gallagher said she and her sister are afraid to wait for the bus at the new location near the gates where hedges abound and it's far from any home or condominium. 

"I've seen a suspicious lady in a car coming in every day and look at us . . . then she leaves," Isabelle said. 

Gerry Odell, Carolyn Odell's husband, thinks the homeowners association should cooperate and put in an end to the situation. 

"All the association has to do is send a fax to the School Board saying that they'll move back the bus stop to where it was," said Odell, 54. 

"All it takes is a second for someone to take the children and no one would ever see it." 

The Hawksridge community is made up of 94 single-family homes and 95 condos with about 189 residents, Odell said. "