One step closer — Renaming Naples bridge in Bob Neault’s memory

(From left) Sen. William Diamond (D-Windham); Margaret Krainin, longtime Naples resident and former chair of the Save the Bridge citizens’ group; Anne Neault, Liam Neault and Rep. Christine Powers (D-Naples) pause for a photo in the State House after a unanimous vote from the Transportation Committee to rename the Bay of Naples Bridge after Bob Neault. (Photo courtesy of Christine Powers)

(From left) Sen. William Diamond (D-Windham); Margaret Krainin, longtime Naples resident and former chair of the Save the Bridge citizens’ group; Anne Neault, Liam Neault and Rep. Christine Powers (D-Naples) pause for a photo in the State House after a unanimous vote from the Transportation Committee to rename the Bay of Naples Bridge after Bob Neault. (Photo courtesy of Christine Powers)

By Dawn De Busk

Staff Writer

NAPLES – During the groundbreaking ceremony for the Bay of Naples Bridge in September 2010, Bob Neault gave a speech, predicting that the new Causeway would “become a mecca for the arts.”

Three years later during a local celebration in mid-May, he watched proudly as his daughter Katie performed a scene from a Shakespeare play at the new amphitheater that had been built next to the new bridge.

Four years later, the bridge and Causeway construction project garnered national recognition when it was named as a winner of the American Transportation Award in the quality of life category.

Neault, who died Nov. 24, 2015, worked tirelessly as the chairman of Causeway Revitalization Committee. His service spanned several years prior to and following the completion of the actual bridge.

“Other than his children, the Causeway Revitalization Project was his proudest achievement,” his widow Anne Neault said.

She testified during the public hearing before the Transportation Committee in Augusta as it considered a bill to rename the Bay of Naples Bridge in memory of Neault, the man who invested his time and his skill sets to make certain the construction project was one in which all Naples residents could take pride.

“Bob would tell you that the Naples Bay Bridge belongs to the town and should celebrate Naples. He would say that he was just being a concerned resident who thought that he could help out in a difficult situation,” Anne Neault said.

“Our family is grateful and humbled that the community has chosen to honor him. It is an honor we believe he deserves,” she said.

On Tuesday afternoon, the Transportation Committee voted unanimously to support renaming the bridge in honor of Bob Neault. Now, the proposed bill is scheduled to go before the House of Representatives and the State Senate.

Rep. Christine Powers (D-Naples) sponsored the bill and Sen. Bill Diamond co-sponsored it.

“After Bob’s untimely death, I was approached by one constituent and then another and then another about honoring his memory in this manner,” Powers said.

“Bob led the charge to bring everyone together for a common vision of what is now our beautiful Naples Causeway and Bridge. Bob would not ask for this honor, but he is truly deserving,” she said.

Powers is a member of the Transportation Committee and currently also sits on the Naples Board of Selectmen.

Earlier this month, the Naples selectmen voted to champion the bill to pay tribute to Neault by renaming the bridge after him.

On Tuesday, friends of the Neault family posted comments about the breaking news on Facebook. Several people said it was wonderful news. “So thrilled! So deserved,” Gracie Cleopatra wrote.

Kathy Sweet recalled Neault during a selectmen meeting on Feb. 15.

“I am of the opinion that Bob gave his heart and soul to the Causeway project. There were days that Bob worked more than 20 hours a week on it. I remember standing down on the Causeway with the spray (from Long Lake) coming over us in the middle of the winter,” she said.

“The effort that man gave to this bridge – the Causeway wouldn’t be what it is without him,” Sweet said.

“I never met a man who gave so much to a town,” she said.

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