At last week’s City Council Workshop the City Parks and Recreation Department presented a proposal under which the Mills Gilbane construction company would build an almost 40,000 square foot building to replace the existing 8,000 sq. ft. Mackle Park Community Center; the proposed building would include class rooms, a commercial-style kitchen, administrative offices, and a 13,500 sq. ft. indoor gymnasium and indoor track. The Marco YMCA has issued a statement that they will work with Mackle Park to avoid redundancy in facilities so as not to compete with one another.
Proposed funding for this facility would be a sale and lease-back arrangement in which Mills Gilbane would build the facility (tentatively priced at $6 million) and the city would then pay $600,000/year for 12 years, at which time the city would then own the facility. The total $7,200,000 cost would be funded via an “annual cost per household of approximately $38 based on a household worth of $500,000.”
In his presentation, Bryan Milk, Parks and Recreation Director emphasized that this would not result in “any new taxes” since they would intend to “reappropriate” existing taxes.
In the City of Marco Island Fiscal Year 2010 Budget $12 million was allocated for Mackle Park Community Center and the same amount for Veteran’s Community Park; in the Fiscal Year 2011 Budget $8 million was allocated for Mackle Park and $11 million for Veteran’s Community Park and its surrounding areas. The Fiscal Year 2011 Budget reads: “The Mackle Park Community Center, Veteran’s Park Improvements and War Memorial funding has been recommended for referendums in future years.” In last week’s City Council Workshop there was formal discussion regarding the Mills Gilbane proposal and unanimous agreement to continue to consider the proposal, although some assurances were given that the issue of a referendum would be considered as part of the package.
It should be noted that no other bids or proposals have been entertained or requested, no business plan has been offered nor revenue sources identified, no budget for maintenance, repair and replacement has been determined, no determination of interest on the part of the community has been ascertained, no traffic or safety studies have been conducted to assess the impact of this significant expansion, among other shortcomings other than an emphasis to act quickly while construction and materials prices are lower. Concurrently, no mention of Veteran’s Community Park has been brought into the discussion.
The Marco Island Homeowners feels that in the current economic times that a financial decision of this magnitude should only be made with the consent and agreement of the majority of property owners and voters of Marco Island; the State of Florida, as with so many other states, is faced with billions of dollars in budget shortfalls which many states are proposing to solve by laying off teachers and State workers and curtailing services. Our current council, especially those who were elected in the last election cycle pledged to use fiscal conservatism and to make a distinction between those items we “need” vs. those things “we’d like to have.” The community must be given an opportunity for input.
Formal petitions are expensive and time consuming. The next City Council meeting is Monday, although it is not yet on the agenda we’d like to let council know what you think about this project. We urge all Marco Citizens to contact us for a copy of a simple non-binding statement to request that City Council (1) stop any consideration of the Mackle Park Community Center proposal and (2) adopt a referendum to be conducted during the Regular City elections in November of 2012. For non-Marco Island Homeowners members you can go to our website (marcoislandhomeonwers.com) or e-mail us directly (Larry Sacher: firstname.lastname@example.org or Ray Seward: RaySeward0911@aol.com) for more information on how to contact us.
Larry Sacher, Chairman
Ray Seward, Treasurer
Marco Island Homeowners