MARCO ISLAND — Five city departments unveiled their wish lists for capital improvement expenditures to members of Marco Island’s Planning Board; among them, a scaled-down Mackle Park Community Center.
The new plan announced by parks and recreation director Bryan Milk consisted of a 25,000-square-foot building at a cost of $4 million that would be financed through a public-private partnership. A 7,800-square-foot general purpose room would be available for rent, generating additional income for the city.
Original designs to replace the park with a 39,315-square-foot, two-story center were first announced in February, but met with disapproval from residents who believe the economy is still too sluggish and want the issue to be put before voters in a referendum.
However, Milk told board members that Mackle Park’s current recreation center is currently at maximum capacity. Low construction and interest costs right now make building the center attractive financially, he said.
At least two parents spoke out in support of the new construction.
“I invite you to sit at the front door of Mackle Park for one hour and see how many people come through,” said Paul Meyer, the father of three children.
Terese Glasser, who is also president of the island’s Optimist Club which schedules several youth sports at the park, said many fellow parents support the new center but their opinions are not being heard because they cannot attend city meetings.
“There is a need,” she stated. “Please consider this.”
Although Milk told planning board members that new taxes won’t be necessary for construction of the new community center because the existing tax base of $38 for a home valued at $500,000 would be re-appropriated. Naming rights for the building could also be utilized to off-set any costs.
“I’m still concerned about how this is going to affect taxpayers,” said Faye Biles, from the Marco Island Taxpayers Association. “You’re going to have to have a referendum because people are worried.”
Marco Island’s police and fire departments also presented capital improvement requests. Fire Chief Mike Murphy is asking for $280,000 to purchase a fire rescue marine vessel to replace an out-dated one that is currently used. Additional requests include $350,000 to make improvements to Station 51 located on Elkcam Circle East. If approved, the money will be used to staff the station 24 hours a day. Murphy told planning board members that response times can be improved by half to the Old Marco, Hideaway, Tigertail, North Barfield and Jolley Bridge areas.
Police Chief Thom Carr’s capital improvement request includes six new vehicles and accessories to replace some of the department’s aging fleet estimated to cost $222,000.