MARCO ISLAND — Come Oct. 1, Marco Island residents will have to pay more to have their kids play on sports teams or use recreational and park facilities. Parks and Recreation Director Bryan Milk announced a new fee structure at Tuesday’s Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee.
Milk explained that the department has always charged for recreational services, but collecting those fees hasn’t always been stringently enforced. With budget cuts, City Council members urged that fees be increased, he told advisory board members.
The cost of youth sports will increase $1 a week for each participant. That would add $10 to the cost of a 10-week session. Renting a room at the Mackle Park Community Center will increase between $5 to $25, depending on whether it is being used for a community or private event, or entrepreneurial use. The new fee structure is expected to generate approximately $9,000.
Advisory members expressed concern about residents will react to the increased costs.
“This is not the time to hit families with anything,” said Cindy Love.
“You’re going to get a lot of retaliation, but it’s still less than you would pay elsewhere,” added Vice Chair Stacy Needles.
Milk stated that some council members wanted an even larger increase. The new costs are similar to those assessed in Naples, Collier County and Sarasota.
The fees will not impact families that have already registered their children for sports leagues.
Grant program changes approved
Changes to the Island assistance program for non-profit organizations are one step closer to taking effect. Advisory Board members unanimously approved a plan Tuesday that will allow organizations to qualify for a maximum $1,500 cash grant to offset the cost of fundraising events. Other non-profits may apply for a maximum $3,000 grant which will be used for city services, such as police and fire event staffing.
The grants have been available for several years to off-set the cost of organizing events and fundraisers.
However, with economic conditions and budget cuts, the grant program’s future is not certain. It allots for $35,000 of the Parks and Recreation Department’s $50,000 Community Grant budget.
Plans for new Rec Center not dead
Money is still being earmarked for a new recreation center to replace the existing one at Mackle Park. Milk stated that funding for a new 28,000-square-foot building is currently allocated as a capital improvement project beginning in 2013, continuing through 2015. The complex would cost approximately $4 million. Current plans are considerably smaller than the $6 million, 40,000-square-foot proposal which was originally presented to City Council in late February.
Plans for a community center expansion are clearly spelled out as part of a Master Plan approved in 2005, as well as in the city’s five-year capital plan, which was developed one year later.
“We’re going to need it sooner rather than later,” stated chairman Paul Meyer, adding that the center is already over utilized.
“Scheduling all the programs is like a magic trick,” added Milk
Tennis court construction to begin
Workers will start resurfacing two tennis courts at the Racquet Center beginning in Monday. Courts three and four have been closed since February. Players have complained about the carpet-based clay surface that was installed on the courts several years ago in an effort to save water. They say it has led to falls and injuries.
It will cost approximately $20,000 to make the court improvements. Racquet Club members raised $8,500 to offset that amount.
Construction is expected to last two weeks.
No more booze
Parks and Recreation officials believe alcohol might be the motive for several recent break-ins at the Racquet Club. As a result, no beer, wine or alcohol will only be available for special event and will not be stored on the property. The club, however, will keep its state liquor license current.