Historical Society seeks Marco’s assistance to save about $100,000

Museum construction set to begin, sewer project may cause delays

Look, the first stakes, Betsy Perdichizzi points out to her husband Bill as the two prepare to give the Marco Island City Council an update on the progress of the Marco Island Historical Museum currently under construction on South Heathwood Drive. The Perdichizzis are co-chairs of the museum capital campaign and have raised $3.3 million toward the $4.5 million project. Two out of three buildings planned for the museum campus should be complete by fall 2009.

Photo by KELLY FARRELL, Staff // Buy this photo

Look, the first stakes, Betsy Perdichizzi points out to her husband Bill as the two prepare to give the Marco Island City Council an update on the progress of the Marco Island Historical Museum currently under construction on South Heathwood Drive. The Perdichizzis are co-chairs of the museum capital campaign and have raised $3.3 million toward the $4.5 million project. Two out of three buildings planned for the museum campus should be complete by fall 2009.

Look, the first stakes, Betsy Perdichizzi points out to her husband Bill as the two prepare to give the Marco Island City Council an update on the progress of the Marco Island Historical Museum currently under construction on South Heathwood Drive. The Perdichizzis are co-chairs of the museum capital campaign and have raised $3.3 million toward the $4.5 million project. Two out of three buildings planned for the museum campus should be complete by fall 2009.

Photo by KELLY FARRELL, Staff // Buy this photo

Look, the first stakes, Betsy Perdichizzi points out to her husband Bill as the two prepare to give the Marco Island City Council an update on the progress of the Marco Island Historical Museum currently under construction on South Heathwood Drive. The Perdichizzis are co-chairs of the museum capital campaign and have raised $3.3 million toward the $4.5 million project. Two out of three buildings planned for the museum campus should be complete by fall 2009.

Marco museum groundbreaking

— The Marco Island Historical Society has steadily worked toward the goal of bringing a museum to the island for eight years. The three-building complex to be surrounded by water will represent a Calusa village. With the majority of funding in place, construction of the museum near the Marco Island Branch Library on South Heathwood, is ready to begin and projected to be complete in fall 2009. However, there is at least one hold up.

The City of Marco Island’s central sewer program is not slated for the museum lot until February 2010, said Public Works Director Rony Joel.

“The sewer line is about 100 yards from the museum site. Rather than put in a septic tank for $40,000 and only use it for one year before adding to the sewer line, planners are requesting consideration to connect the museum site about one year ahead of schedule,” said Bill Perdichizzi, the museum’s capital campaign co-chair.

Perdichizzi will give a presentation to City Council on the status of the museum followed by a request for an adjustment to the sewer schedule and a request for the city to donate dirt.

City Finance Director Bill Harrison said there would be “no financial impact on changing the date of the sewer connection.”

However, if an adjustment was made only for the one lot in the district, Chairman Bill Trotter said he was concerned the financial impact could be significant.

“We’re going to need to look at what the best approach is for our residents given the stages of the (Septic Tank Replacement System). A lot of people have made their plans based on our current project plan,” Trotter said.

It may be possible to get the sewer system ready ahead of the current schedule, but it would require City Council to approve construction beginning in January, rather than the current plan of beginning in April 2009, Joel said.

While council may not make the final decision Monday, they will gather the information necessary to consider the impact on the museum, neighboring residents and possibly construction during tourist season.

There is currently soil available at the Marco Shores facility, Joel said, adding that the city has been contacted by others interested in purchasing the excess soil.

The museum needs about 5,000 cubic yards of soil and with an approximate value of $4 per cubic yard that makes it about a $20,000 request, he estimated.

Perdichizzi estimated a $40,000 savings to the museum because the dirt is already here. He also hoped residents would support putting the soil to use quickly rather than storing the possible eyesore any longer.

The Marco Island Historical Society currently has $3.3 million collected toward the $4.5 million museum. The savings from the city would put the museum one step closer to its goal.

Building the museum has been a community effort with donations from businesses including island hotels; Collier County gave the museum the three-acre parcel of land and $225,000 of tourist development dollars; the City of Marco Island donated $100,000 in 2005 and residents Sonja and Jon Laidig gave the museum a $1.5 million “Christmas present” in December 2007.

A groundbreaking ceremony was held in March when preparatory work began on the land, but unexpected delays stalled the construction until the city and county approved the plans last week.

Naples-based CORE Construction is “in the process of mobilizing their equipment. We expect to see activity any time now. They have all the green lights,” Perdichizzi said.

The museum, named “The Marco Island Historical Museum” by the Laidig’s who gained naming rights with their donation, will be a “literary complex, a campus of culture as some people have called it,” said Betsy Perdichizzi, capital campaign co-chair.

“It’s the heart of the island, just a stone’s throw from Mackle Park. With a community park, community library, a community museum, and City Hall just down the road, it’s a nice location. We’re tickled pink about it,” added husband Bill Perdichizzi.

Currently there is a gazebo on the site which was donated by the Marco Island Women’s Club to the library in 1998. The gazebo will have to go and a six foot tall shell mound similar to that found in a Calusa Indian village will be in its place.

Once built, Collier County will operate the museum, which will be directed by a joint board of two county assigned members and two historical society members, Perdichizzi said.

The larger than expected donations have changed the scope of the project over the years. Once planned to be two buildings and 8,000 square feet, the new plan is for the museum complex to include three buildings totaling about 13,000 square feet.

Currently the museum has a small exhibit in the lobby of Marco Island Area Association of Realtors near City Hall and another slightly larger Calusa Indian exhibit in the Shops of Marco.

Exhibits in the future museum will include art and temporary, traveling exhibits, a Calusa Indian and pre-Calusa Indian exhibit, an exhibit of the Pioneer Era up to about 1960 and the Deltona development era including the 1960s to the modern city of Marco Island.

Funding is still needed for the smallest of the buildings, the 2,000 square-foot Living History Hall. A donation of $750,000 would give the donor naming rights to the hall.

A on site structure depicting the Key Marco Cat shows the museum’s progress in reaching the $4.5 million goal. The actual Key Marco Cat discovered in 1896 was carved by Calusa Indians using a shark-tooth knife. It is currently at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C. and Perdichizzi said he hopes the “coveted” carving will one day return to Marco.

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