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My impression of Ave Maria Towne so far

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I went visiting Ave Maria Towne and Ave Maria University today...

Hi everybody!

Ken here.

I visited Ave Maria today for the heck of it. I figured that the schools have been open for a month now, and it would be a good time to see what progress has been made.

(We live just a stone's throw away so it wasn't any real trek, and working from home offers me the benefit of having time to do such things)

The trip up was mild as always. It's rare to live in Golden Gate Estates and make a trip to the EAST (since the amenities are usually found towards the beach). Inland is Immokalee, Jerome, Sunniland, Bear Island, the Everglades - places one doesn't think of when they think of Collier County. But with Ave Maria here, it makes for a potential destination in the future.

We drove through the town center. The oratory is still being built. None of the stores are open yet - the concrete floors are poured and the metal wall studs are up. I think the bookstore was open (we didn't go in) and a real estate office for the above-the-store apartments/condos was open.

The Ave Maria Grammar and Preparatory School AVE MARIA ELEMENTARY SCHOOL is up and running. They boast 400 students so far, from Kindergarten to 12th grade. My sister-in-law works with a girl who goes to Ave Maria Prep and she says she loves it there. We didn't go up to the school, just past it as we didn't want to disturb classes in session.

We looked for the Ave Maria Welcome Center, but we ended up at the BelleraWalk sales office. BelleraWalk is the only community in Ave Maria that will be gated and is also the only one without any homes built yet. [they will be poured concrete homes and the forms aren't finished yet]

I spoke to a nice young man and a woman whose tag had her name and "New York, NY" under it. Didn't catch either of their names, but I'm bad with names. I talked about my website (where you are now) and NeighborHelp Referrals' Affordable Trapping and passed out a few cards. The man expressed interest in this website and the woman answered my questions about Ave Maria. She too couldn't pronounce "NeighborHelp Referrals" - but then again, nobody can (Neighborhood... hood, NeighborhoodHelp... uhhhh...) - it's not her fault.

250 homes have been sold so far in Ave Maria. Not bad!

The students seem to live on campus in various dorms. The ones I encountered were nice and polite and called me sir. Ran across a few nuns and priests wandering around.

The highlight of the trip was to the Library - Canizaro Library they call it. From the parking lot you can't tell that's the library because some architect decided it would be a good idea to put a very tall concrete wall inbetween the parking lot and the sign on the building that says "Canizaro Library". That led to some confusion.

The library has three floors. It has the typical university library smell of musty books but that's to be expected. It looks very New York Public Library in there with classy tables and desks and chairs. Lots of Catholic periodicals (which doesn't help me as I'm not Catholic, although I do have an interest in theology) and three floors worth of books. Students, nuns, priests and others were scattered around, studying their various things, some in groups and some sitting alone.

They have a media room for language learning. It doesn't look completely set up yet as each of the computers had names and passwords of faculty or something on them and no access to the computerized language learning. I hope they fix that for I'll come to visit just to learn a little Spanish or Russian or Greek. [and I hope they open that to the public!]

Lots and lots of Vatican art books. I didn't know that many existed!

I got my name on the computer as a Community borrower. I'll get 30 days to take out the books but won't be allowed to take out the CD/DVDs. Sounds fine to me! Alas, though, they use the Library of Congress numbering system rather than good ol' Dewey Decimal, so that'll take some getting used to.

They photocopied my driver's license and Collier County Public Library Card and I'm ready to start borrowing!

Their hours are extremely generous: 8am-10pm Monday through Friday, 8am - 5pm Saturday and 1pm-10pm Sunday. It'd be a nice place to just relax, especially for us Estates residents.

We couldn't find a place to eat but we did see a couple of tours going through so perhaps they knew something we didn't. I suspect the food was in the student activities center and since I'm not a paying student, I doubt I'd be welcome there more than once Maybe next time I'll get gutsy and see if I can mosy my way over to the cafeteria.

All in all, a definite work in progress.

There will be a North Park and a South Park (no Cartman though) for the public and a few business parks are in the works. Arthrex (as reported Arthrex moving to Ave Maria, Florida! ) will be moving to Ave Maria in a couple of years to the back corner of the lot.

A lot of the amenities will be geared towards the students and to those living there, which isn't so different than a lot of Naples - not forbidden from using a communities facilities but you may ge looked at sideways until they get to know you. I suppose it's not so different than it would be in other parts of the country.

If anyone is thinking of visiting, it's not worth the trip --- YET. Give them 'til Christmas 2007 and a heck of a lot more things should be ready. If you can wait 'til Spring 2008 the place will REALLY be hopping. But if you live nearby (which I suspect most visitors of my website do), then stop on by and check it out.

The university is here. It's real. It's alive. The prep school is here, real and alive. The town... well, it's not there yet.

But not bad, Tom Monahan. You lifted a university out of Michigan (causing some controversy - Ave Maria: Michigan town feels 'duped' by college University leaves behind feelings of resentment, lawsuit in Ypsilanti, Michigan ) and created a town out of farmland and plopped the university down on it.

The reports that say "Ave Maria Towne, FL is a cult!" are premature. I just saw a Catholic university and a Catholic Prep school that are up and running by some "early adopters" of new things.

If they play their cards right (for its certainly a gamble), then Ave Maria will do just fine.

Kenneth Udut Owner NeighborHelp Referrals' Affordable Trapping 465-9291 Webmaster: - Collier County FL news/videos/info/business directory
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My impression of Ave Maria Towne so far I went visiting Ave Maria Towne and Ave Maria University today...