Mackle Park community center preps for $12 million, ‘green building’ expansion

Potential competition with other Island gyms, facilities raises some concern

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Submitted / City of Marco Island

Marco Island is preparing for its second “green building” design in the city. The first was a public works facility still in the design phase and next may be the Mackle Park Community Center.

Reconstruction of the Community Center at Mackle Park was the main topic of discussion at the Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee meeting Tuesday.

Mackle Park’s Community Center upgrades and expansion are part of the longterm plan for the park system. The structure is expected to be bigger than originally planned — about twice the size.

The two-story building, which remains under preliminary planning by BSSW Architect, may include an indoor gym, indoor basketball courts and an indoor running track looking over the gymnasium. The building plan is for 43,000 square feet as opposed to the 20,000 square foot building planned a couple years ago.

Parks advisory committee members had a couple of concerns about the plan including the possibility that it may compete with existing businesses and organizations.

“You’ve got to charge for the gym equipment. It’s very expensive. You do look at taking some business away from Bert (Brewer’s),” said committee member Glen Walton.

The Brewer family owns Marco Fitness Club on Elkcam Circle and there was some concern that gym equipment at the city facility could affect business at other Island health clubs, such as Club Marco and Curves.

Cyndi Love said the new Mackle Community Center plan was very similar to the Marco YMCA’s planned new facility, particularly the inclusion of an indoor track overlooking the gymnasium.

Parks and Recreation Director Bryan Milk asked what she thought about that.

“Well, it’s needed. I don’t know if two are needed,” Love said.

She added that the YMCA was still in the process of raising the money for the Y’s planned facility.

Walton and the majority of the committee also didn’t like the idea of losing outdoor basketball courts in exchange for the indoor one.

“Maybe we could at least keep one court outside because it is nice to be able to come by even when the building is closed,” Walton said, echoing the sentiments of others on the committee and in the audience.

Terri DiSciullo, treasurer of the Parks and Recreation Foundation, said she was very pleased with the preliminary plan overall.

“This is very exciting to me,” she said.

Aspects of the plan that she says she particularly likes include the kitchen facility for cooking classes and events, plentiful meeting room space, a coffee shop — where children could work and earn money while also potentially earning money for the park — and a game room for teens.

She said a rock climbing wall in the foyer would make a great addition.

The approximate 30-acre park and current community center building at 1361 Andalusia Terrace were built in 1987.

Milk said it would be more cost effective to rebuild the park center rather than remodel it.

Members of the audience at the committee meeting, including Councilman Jerry Gibson and Planning Board member Irv Pavlow let out an audible moan when they heard the price tag.

“I know it’s lofty. I know it’s $12 million, but you should only get one shot at it,” DiSciullo said.

She added that the Foundation would likely be able to get grants the city may not otherwise get.

While Gibson appeared taken aback by the estimated price, he said he liked the idea of splitting the park from the recreation in the parks and recreation department.

“I like the recreation here, at Mackle Park, and the park there, at Veterans’ Community Park,” Gibson said.

Milk said the plan would be open to a “green building” design including solar panels and other energy and water efficiency elements.

Funding for the park will likely be placed on a “sizeable referendum, if it goes that way,” Milk said.

He added the referendum could include Smokehouse Bay improvements for $12 million, Veterans’ Community Park construction for up to $15 million and this Mackle Park rebuilding for about $12 million.

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Comments » 1

freedomofspeech1 writes:

It will never pass if Milk's comment about including it with 12m for smokehouse and 15m for vets....Do you really think the people of Marco will approve a 39 million dollar referendum during these economic times???
The Parks and Rec Foundation needs to "separate" themselves with any talk of a combined referendum and go out and get all the grants it can and then go to the people of Marco for the difference. Then and ONLY then will this have a chance.

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