Naples business owners concerned about plans to beautify Central Avenue

Author: Nicole Papageorge

NAPLES, Fla.- Some local business owners are angry the city wants to reduce lanes on a busy street into downtown Naples.

City leaders want to install roundabouts along Central Avenue from Baker Park to 8th Street. Business owners say it will create more traffic and hurt their bottom line.

Rick Johnson, who owns Rick Johnson’s Auto & Tire on Central tells WINK News, the city’s plan would add green space in front of his business. He says it would block cars and trucks from getting into some of his bays.

“It destroys the business,” said Johnson. “If you can’t get cars into the bays how do you work on them?”

Johnson has owned the business on Central Avenue for two decades.

“I’m all for green space. I’m all for beautifying the town and I’m willing to help them any way,” said Johnson. “But, I have to have access to my bays.”

City leaders say the roundabouts will replace traffic lights and help the flow of traffic. Johnson disagrees.

“You’ve reduced the lanes. So now they’re rounding about. They’re coming up to Central and 41, they’re gonna be stacked up bad because you don’t have the lanes anymore,” said Johnson.

The design will reduce the amount of traffic allowed on Central Avenue from four lanes to two lanes.

Johnson says it will remove already sparse parking spots for local businesses and make it almost impossible for people to get into the city. He says its possible restaurants and shops on 5th Avenue and 3rd Street South will suffer.

“They’re limiting a major corridor to get into Naples, why?” asked Johnson.

City leaders are still reviewing the plans.  Johnson hopes they’ll listen to his and other business owners’ concerns.

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