MARCO ISLAND — Closing a main Marco artery is to open up the heart of the Island’s future town center, Veterans’ Community Park.
Council approved the first phase of an approximate $25 million new park and soon it will be up to residents to approve the rest in a referendum.
Construction on the proposal to close Elkcam Circle and reroute vehicular traffic to Park Avenue is to begin this summer for a cost not to exceed $50,000. The alleyway running through a parking lot between Joy Circle and Park Avenue will be opened to maximize connectivity.
The other design plan features, phases and costs to be completed at times yet unscheduled, but anticipated in future years, are as follows:
Phase 1: Develop parking, shared pathways, landscaping, the Farmers Market and festival lawn area, waterfront development and storm water management. $6 million.
Phase 2: Fountain, sculptures and art displays. Veterans’ memorial designed and funded in part by the Marco VFW. Commander Dave Gardener announced VFW’s plans to formally begin fundraising for the memorial on July 4 at Residents’ Beach with the sale of American flags. The veterans’ monument is expected to cost about $200,000, Gardener estimated. Cost is about $1 million not including sculptures, according to designers from Kimley-Horn and Associates.
Phase 3: Open lawn area near the water, a 3,500-square-foot band shell, concession, restroom facility and waterfront promenade, which will include boat docking spaces. This phase is estimated to cost $4 million.
Phase 4: Performing Arts Center, with 28,000 square feet and a design combination of the Esplanade’s and Sugden Theater of Naples architecture. $12 million.
“This really is a long term project. Unless someone gets behind it and champions it, this is going to take a number of years,” said City Manager Steve Thompson.
Councilman Ted Forcht said he desired a better vision of the entire Town Center when approving plans for the park as the focal point.
Funding options will be considered at future budget sessions and approving the plans may allow for increased grant potential being pursued by the city.
Councilman Bill Trotter clarified that by approving the master plan before them, council will still be able to amend the phasing and specific elements in the future.