Immokalee has a new welcome sign, which ordinarily would be exciting. But it would seem that the community has much to say about it and not all of it is positive.
“There was no culture in that sign, and I say that respectfully and sincerely,” said Isrrael Pena Jr. ” My immediate raw emotion of just ‘wow this is a change,’ I felt like our identity was stripped from the symbolism of our harvest that was in our original welcome sign,” he added.
Pena and others in the community say the new sign doesn’t really represent Immokalee and what it’s all about.
The petition, initiated by the community, has more than 2,200 signatures as of Tuesday.
Collier County Commissioner Bill McDaniel said he’s noticed the uproar. “There was quite a bit of controversy when the decision was made with to switch from the cornucopia to the bird of paradise.”
McDaniel said the decision to change the sign happened five years ago, adding, “The majority rules and the majority at that time decided the bird of paradise was better.”
He said, for the most part, people don’t really interact with their local officials – until something happens.
“Most folks don’t want to be bothered by government or until it has an impact either positively or negatively on their life, so you know we’re all going about our thing in our daily lives and then a new sign pops up and that’s where the opinions begin to fly,” McDaniel added.
Despite the majority in the meeting at the time of the decision was for the change, now the majority in the community is not happy with the switch.
“I’ve watched the progress comes through, I’ve watched the communication at these public meetings and folks have weighed in along the way and then now the sign’s built and there’s a movement to change it now,” McDaniel said.
The commissioner added that there could even be meetings held about the sign for the public to bring their complaints. “It’s certainly plausible that there could be meetings held in the evenings; I don’t see why we couldn’t do that,” he said.
The bottom line is that the money has already been spent on the new sign and any changes would be difficult.
The Collier County Municipal Service Taxing Unit spent nearly $60,000 on the sign, including landscaping and lights.