Goodine’s speech at bridge opening

Editor’s note: The following is from a speech that Naples Town Manager Derik Goodine wrote and planned to present at the reception on the Village Green following the bridge opening ceremony last Friday. As people approached the Village Green, they were conversing and introducing themselves so Goodine decided he would not deliver the speech at that time, but instead send it to The News as a thank you to all who attended the historic event.

By Derik Goodine

Naples Town Manager

Thank you, to everybody who attended this historic event this past Friday. We had some great speeches earlier in the day, and thank you to Deputy Commissioner Bruce Van Note, Rep. Rich Cebra, CRC Chairman Bob Neault, and Selectman Robert Caron for their speeches.

Who would have thought I would be looking out at so many faces this past Friday, and seeing them altogether, united and celebrating the opening of our new beautiful bridge. It was a long time in the making, and it wasn’t without its problems in the beginning, although that seems so far in the past now.

I think we have created something that we are very proud of. When we started this project, many of us were worried about the hill that might be where the bridge is.  Some of us worried more about the hill we would have to climb to garner support from the masses for this project, in order to get to the grand opening day. After all, we have a committee and subcommittees made up of a myriad of people with different opinions. Could all these people come to consensus on what the bridge and Causeway would look like, and would we be united in our support when it was completed was my biggest worry as this project began.

Any fear about public acceptance is now allayed.  Hundreds of people came to the historic opening event. The scene was quite remarkable as I walked from my office down to the bridge.

We made it over that proverbial hill rather easily, and the hill that is where the bridge is, isn’t bad at all and blends in really well with the Causeway.  You feel a majestic beauty from the top of the bridge as you look out over the lakes and the Causeway. The Naples Causeway Renovation Committee did an amazing job of coming together to work on behalf of the town to make this the best project possible.  Thank you so much for your dedication to this project. I can say that this committee restored my faith in community and collaboration, and operated at all times with respect for its fellow members.  I don’t think any of us have everything that we wanted, but I think what we do have, we are all proud of. This wasn’t just about building a bridge, it was about mending the community to bring sides together, and this past Friday the CRC felt that success.

I want to also thank Naples Main Street where many of the ideas incorporated into the Causeway project were born out of their visioning of a renovated Causeway, which started seven years ago. I also want to thank them for their help in the development of the TIF District, which is now paying for the town improvements we are making.

I also want to thank the Naples Garden Club for their work identifying trees and plantings that will survive our harsh winters.

I want to thank the Naples Board of Selectmen for their leadership on this project, and the Naples taxpayers for their support and patience during the project. I thank our business community for their support, as well.

I want to thank my Administrative Assistant/Secretary Barbara McDonough for being there for me, and letting me vent at times, and for her hard work on this project too. I am looking forward to her return to the office soon enough.

I want to thank Nancy Hanson, Kathy Sweet and Barbara McDonough for their work on organizing the reception, which followed the parade, and Vicki Toole and Lake Region Caterers for the making the reception first class.

I want to thank Wyman and Simpson, Kim Suhr and Jeff Simpson especially, and their crew and all of their subcontractors for their great work and collaboration on this project.

I especially want to thank the Maine Department of Transportation, Lisa and Eric, and especially, Craig Hurd, a fellow Steeler fan I might add, for putting up with myself and the rest of us that are constantly visiting them, and for answering our questions.  If I had a game ball, it would go to Craig.

I also want to thank anyone I am forgetting.  Everybody that has been involved in this project deserves a great “thank you.”

Friday was a very historic day for the Town of Naples, and I am so glad that so many people turned out to celebrate it and be part of history.  Photos from this day will surely be displayed at some point in our new town museum and be seen and talked about for generations. While the new bridge is a bridge to our future, the museum is a bridge to our past. Please think about joining the Naples Historical Society to help preserve our history and our new museum.

The bridge grand opening is only the beginning though. The project is far from over. We have green spaces to create and fill. We have fountains to create and build. Public art to create, and perhaps a clock tower to build. We have fundraising to do!  The most important thing though is to keep dreaming and be creative.  The new bridge is a marvel. Our goal is to transform the Causeway into a marvel, as well.  It will be important, as we move forward on the rest of this project, to continue the excitement and watch as we continue to go through a transformation that will capture the minds and imaginations and attention of our residents and our visitors.  Our work is far from over!

With that said, you don’t get to this point without good leadership. I certainly knew that this project would not be easy. The board of selectmen and I could look out for the town’s interest during the project, yet something more would be needed.  That is the reason the committee was created, and it was filled with people of different backgrounds and opinions.  The town gets an A-plus on the selection of people to serve on this committee.  The committee, however, gets an A-plus for choosing their leader.  This person, I met when I first got to town nearly eight years ago, and I liked him from the moment I met him.  He also was one of the people that I could speak candidly with during the early days of the planning process about the project. We were both “Save the Bridge” supporters in the beginning, but we also could discuss the alternatives openly, and discuss the importance of the work already done by Naples Main Street, which could and should be incorporated into whatever the project ended up being.  There is no doubt in my mind if this person had not given up hours and days of his own personal time, and dedicated himself to this project, that we wouldn’t have been there Friday, united and celebrating.  I mean, I am amazed at this person’s commitment not only to the project, but to the committee itself. He and I have spent countless hours, and I would dare say, days, discussing the projects and coming up with proposed strategies and solutions for problems that have arisen. I have so much admiration and respect for him because he has been a selfless leader during this process. He is the reason that we made it over that hill and were able to celebrate last Friday, without a doubt.  He is also the reason that I dare to dream about what work we still have to do, and that we can do it. Bob Neault has allowed us to dare to dream about what could, can and will be.  Thank you, Bob for being a great leader throughout this project.

Once again thank you to all that came to and supported the historic grand opening of the new Bay of Naples Bridge on Friday. We are hoping to have a similar celebration next May for the official grand opening of the renovated Naples Causeway.

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