VP Biden arrives in Southwest Florida for Keewaydin visit for New Year

Biden family recently bought estate on Keewaydin Island in Naples

Dania Maxwell/Staff
Vice President Joe Biden, center right, arrives to a home recently purchased by James and Sara Biden, the Vice President's brother and sister-in-law, on Keewaydin on January 1, 2014, just south of Naples.

Photo by DANIA MAXWELL // Buy this photo

Dania Maxwell/Staff Vice President Joe Biden, center right, arrives to a home recently purchased by James and Sara Biden, the Vice President's brother and sister-in-law, on Keewaydin on January 1, 2014, just south of Naples.

VP Biden lands at RSW

Vice President Joe Biden addresses the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee Centennial Celebration luncheon in Washington, Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2013. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)

Vice President Joe Biden addresses the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee Centennial Celebration luncheon in Washington, Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2013. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)

A bonfire ring built on the beach near the Biden estate on Keewaydin Island on Tuesday. Photo by Eric Staats/Naples Daily News.

Photo by ERIC STAATS // Buy this photo

A bonfire ring built on the beach near the Biden estate on Keewaydin Island on Tuesday. Photo by Eric Staats/Naples Daily News.

— Vice President Joe Biden and his wife's plane landed at Southwest Florida International Airport this afternoon and they may be spending the first days of 2014 at the family's new Naples estate.

A U.S. Coast Guard vessel with three officers on board arrived on the inland water side of the Biden Keewaydin Island home at 1:45 p.m.

The vessel contained a machine gun stationed on the front of the boat.

The St. Petersburg office of the Coast Guard has set up a 100-yard security zone in the vicinity of Little Marco Pass from 11 a.m. until 6 p.m. Jan. 3.

The Coast Guard boat at Keewaydin is directing boaters to keep moving in the channel.

A man and a woman could be seen sitting on a bench near the dock.

Shortly before 2 p.m., three more Coast Guard boats arrived and three Collier County Sheriff's boats arrived in the channel.

The Marco Island Police Department assisted the U.S. Secret Service with the vice president's visit to the area according to a press release.

At 2:12, a sport boat arrived and a contingent of people arrived at the Biden dock and the group got off. It is not clear if the Vice President and his wife was on board.

Boaters who live in Isle of Capri said the vice president's party left from Marco Island to get to Keewaydin.

"They delayed us for a while, but that's OK," the man said, declining to give his name. Dozens of police cruisers were on the Isle, he said.

Denise Marshall, who lives on Isles of Capri and boats to Keewaydin often, said she has toured the stilt house that the vice president's brother recently purchased.

"It's absolutely beautiful," she said. "It's built like a fortress."

She expected Keewaydin's popular boating spot to be busy New Year's Day but the turnout was more than she anticipated. She figured some folks came after learning the vice president was coming and hoped to get a glimpse of him.

"Rental boats are gawking," Marshall, 54, said. "I've lived here 30 years and I've never seen so many people."

Russell Hollander, 33, aimed higher than just a possible glimpse of the vice president.

"I hope he buys me a house on Keewaydin," he deadpanned.

There's plenty of beach for Biden and the entourage he travels with, said Bill Kelly, 62.

"The more the merrier. He just needs to come down and float down the current with us and have a beer," he said. "We won't hurt him. The Secret Service can come too. Like I said, the more the merrier."

Winter resident Bob Hounshell, 57, said he can't blame Biden for wanting to spend some time in Naples and on Keewaydin.

"I can't think of a better place to enjoy the weather," he said. "It's very inviting."

His brother, James Biden Sr., and sister-in-law, Sara Jones Biden, closed on a house on 5 acres of Keewaydin Island on Dec. 23., information obtained by the Naples Daily News points to the vice president himself coming to town to check out the new digs.

An email that went out to some media members in the nation's capital states that from Jan. 1 through Jan. 3, Joe and Dr. Jill Biden "will visit Naples, Florida. There are no public events scheduled."

A contingent of Lee County sheriff's deputies gathered Wednesday morning at a building at Southwest Florida International Airport but said they hadn't been given instructions yet. Air Force One and other presidential visits have in the past been coordinated through a private aviation site at RSW.

The vice president's plane landed at about 12:30 p.m. at Southwest Florida International Airport.

A motorcade was is in place at the airport around 11:30 a.m. to take the vice president to his destination. Law enforcement officers were positioned at various locations along Interstate 75.

A Federal Aviation Administration report obtained Wednesday by the Daily News confirmed the trip, although the White House and representatives of the vice president’s office haven't returned calls or emails for comment.

Air space in the Fort Myers-Naples area has temporary restrictions between Jan. 1 and Jan. 3 for “VIP movement,” according to the FAA website. The FAA lists the start time for the restrictions as 11:30 a.m. Wednesday through Friday afternoon.

It details that movement, saying no pilots may operate aircraft in a set area, except law enforcement and safety personnel “directly supporting the United States Secret Service and the office of the Vice President of the United States.”

That area includes Keewaydin Island.

Naples police told the Daily News on Tuesday night they hadn't been alerted to any such visit and Collier County sheriff's officials said they couldn't comment even if they were aware of a visit. Secret Service officials wouldn't comment.

An out-of-town pilot who landed at Marco Island airport on Tuesday told the Daily News he was instructed by the Federal Aviation Administration to complete his operation so aircraft related to the vice president could land in the area.

The new Biden estate wasn't deserted Tuesday afternoon, with a man and woman standing in the yard near two boys in life jackets playing on beached Jetskis.

Two men unloaded supplies from an Isles of Capri Marine boat docked on the back bay side of the lot. Owners of the business couldn't be reached for comment.

On the Gulf side, a fire pit had been filled with fresh wood. Two logs had been placed on the beach for fireside seats.

Tiki torches, still in their packaging plastic, lined a boardwalk and deck that led to the beach from the house that could not be seen behind thick vegetation. Only the top stuck through the trees.

The property was listed on the Naples Area Board of Realtors, or NABOR, website for $2.79 million. According to the deed recorded Dec. 27 with the Collier County Clerk of Courts, the couple has a $2.1 million five-year mortgage that comes due Dec. 23, 2018.

Keewaydin is a sparsely populated 1,009-acre barrier island that is part of Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve. It has a dozen or so houses though most of the scrub-covered island is owned by the public. It is accessible only by boat and once there, the only way to get around is by foot or golf cart on dirt paths.

Most of the homes are on stilts, use water caught in rain barrels and are solar-powered; the island doesn’t have electricity. Some of the homes are cooled only by well-placed and plentiful windows that catch the Gulf breezes.

© 2014 Naples Daily News. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Comments » 5

michael.lissack#265990 writes:

and we will know a revolution is underway when the VP and the Speaker are seen having beers togther at Stan's

RedneckHippie writes:

I don't see what all the hoopla is about! The man gets up and puts his pants on just like the rest of us, one leg at a time. Leave them alone and let them relax in peace. We don't need to know their every breath. This is why famous people buy here but soon leave. It's because we hound them to death in the media!!!!

Ruskin writes:

Well, la-dee-frickin-da!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RlBr2f...

ElderStatesman writes:

The new Biden family resident has already turned itself into a new law enforcement hang-out / headquarters. We even had a camera drone fly over Keewaydin today before the arrival. Our tax paying dollars at work!

BlackCat writes:

BFD. This isn't news!

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