Guest Commentary: Mackle Park Community Center’s proposed $7 million project: Should we have a voice in the decision?

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: sachmo2@comcast.net or Ray Seward: RaySeward0911@aol.com) for more information on how to contact us.

Respectfully submitted,

Larry Sacher, Chairman

Ray Seward, Treasurer

Marco Island Homeowners

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Comments » 29

dc5799 writes:

Why should we not have a voice, is it not our city?

MarcoCitizen writes:

Change the City Charter to have the voters approve any proposed City budget and put these councilmen, city managers, and back room deals in their place.

Seawaller writes:

1. We don't need an indoor track, it's southwest Florida - run outside.
2. We don't need indoor basketball courts, the present ones have a roof over them anyway.
3. We don't need a commercial kitchen to cook hot dogs for City open houses
4. We don't need classrooms, it's not going to be part of a school (or is it?)
5. We don't need to compete with local clubs and businesses for wedding receptions and banquets.

Obviously staff at Dept. of Rec has spent considerable time putting this outrageous proposal together. If they did this on company time they don't have enough to do and layoffs in that dept. are more than appropriate.

Even if this thing were built for free (with Obama money), the yearly costs of this facility will fall squarely on the backs of Marco taxpayers.

As for marketing this for paid use: a marketing director will be hired and it won't bring in enough to pay his/her salary and benefits.

Who exactly is it that wants this so earnestly? Why?
I've talked to over 50 people since this debacle raised its head, and not one has endorsed it. Maybe that's a small sample, but 0 out of 50 is statistically significant.

I dare the Council to allow this to go to a referendum. Double dare. Then we would see who really has a pulse on the views of Marco Islanders.

ajm3s writes:

I believe we have our new representatives. Thank you Mr. Sacher and Mr. Seward. God we have such good representation, now all we need is to exchange them with a few that sit on the dais.

In the meantime, I hope the Council is listening, because we were once considered just malcontents. Or perhaps we still are.

MarcoCitizen writes:

It smells like the fix is in on the Mackle waste and since the public can't really do anything about it, the city council and senior city staff are smugly safe and empowered until the next election. Newly elected councilmen will quickly realize this and the cycle will repeat until we're all broke.

This is no way to do the people's business!

It looks like cityhood was a gigantic mistake because this deeply flawed city government is out of our control and the taxpayers have no good tools to fix this corruption. Now, if the City had to come to the taxpayers to approve spending ......

ajm3s writes:

From Ms. Terri Barone DiSciullo via email to Mr. Magel on March 3rd:

"Don't remain silent or the old folks will win. The majority don't want to spend a dime for kids. I fought for a spray park from the time Victoria was 3 years old and I was President of Mothers of Marco - it didn't get completed until she was 12 years old. Don't let this happen to more kids on Marco. It's not fair!"

This is just one of many, me, me, me laments from Ms. DiSciullo. Imagine, the majority are against it from HER perspective. Imagine, she is disgusted with folks NOT wanting an expanded Community Center.

Read her entire lament, and ask yourself if it is the interest of the entire community, endorsed by the community, OR is it just for the kids.

And thank you Mr. Magel for NOT representing the property owners on this island that may or may not have kids who are against spending lavishly for larger and more costly projects.

And to Ms. DiSullio, they just paved the walking paths on Plummer Park that were in disrepair for the last 11 years. So I am patient as well, but I like to maintain what we have and it does not have to be just for the kids.

Here enjoy her contempt for us property owners below:

ajm3s writes:

Terri Barone DiSciullo March 3 at 1:10pm
Dear Friends,
As most of you know, we just partnered with the Island Country Club Charitable Foundation in their golf tournament. We will be getting approximately $22,000. This money will be restricted to the new specialty kitchen at the new community center. Approx. $1,000 will be used to purchase a new professional water cooler machine that Hector requested for the kids participating in the Optimist sports so that parents don't have to lug ice and pay for water. We will purchase it, and donate it to the park. The P & R Dept. will have a procedure for checking it out and being responsible for it.
We will not donate the money to the City until the City Council approves the building of the community center. It will stay in a restricted fund.
I would like to be frank with all of you now. I have sacrificed 12 years of my life, since Victoria was 3 years old to fight for families on Marco Island. There was NO Parks and Recs department, virtually no programming, no Kids Cove, no Spray Park, no Dog Park, no football field before I got onto City Council. I pushed the councilors at the time to set a budget for a P & R Dept. and to hire a park director - thank God for Dana Souza! How far has the City come since 2002. Carrie Canfield was right along side me serving on the P & R Advisory committee and fighting people every step of the way to get what the families on Marco deserved.
Now we have a building that is within our reach - now the same ole' same ole' negative anti-family anti-kid groups are shouting for a referendum to get this building built. We have no idea if a referendum will pass, but why is it needed now? So many city projects have gone through without referendum. Why now? Because it's for kids and families? It's for EVERYONE!!
The Island and families need your help. Larry Magel called me today to say that the new "homeowners group" is screaming for a referendum and are circulating a petition that it needs to go to referendum. He said I need to get in front of it - NO, I do not need to get in front of it. Other people like yourselves need to get out in front of it. I can no longer fight for families. I am the President of the Foundation. I want to help parks and recs to provide great services, and our Board has committed to help fundraise for the new community center. But, we cannot be in the lobbying business.
Larry said that he would love it if people got up to the podium Monday night and stated the following "I am Kim Burke, Chair of the Optimist Soccer, and I represent 100 families. We all support a new community center without referendum". It's as simple as that. The Council sent Bryan's proposal to the budget process. Bryan is going to 5 community centers from here to Sarasota to get their budgets and business plan. People aren't even giving him a chance to get his ducks in a row when this goes to budget in a couple of months.

ajm3s writes:

continues from above:

"If the P(3) goes through with Mills Gilbane, it will cost people with a $500,000 valued property only $38 per year - that's not more taxes - that's reappropriating funds from public works for instance or the BP Oil Spill reserve which is no longer needed.
If you have any questions, please feel free to email me. I hoped that the Optimists could work with us. We are fighting for the same things for the kids and families of Marco.
Please spread the word, start a petition, send your city councilors emails (www.cityofmarcoisland.com). Don't remain silent or the old folks will win. The majority don't want to spend a dime for kids. I fought for a spray park from the time Victoria was 3 years old and I was President of Mothers of Marco - it didn't get completed until she was 12 years old. Don't let this happen to more kids on Marco. It's not fair!
Terri"

ajm3s writes:

Wake UP folks, some on the Council have agendas that I would consider to be fiscally irresponsible. And they ran and were elected on a platform of fiscal responsibility and to represent the folks. Does that just include a subset of families with kids in sport programs that live on this island?

Mr. Magel, is duplicitous a fair assessment based on your position?

Property owner's have a voice and it will not be hushed by those that do not represent me and others. Sorry, Ms. DiSullio, but you show your contempt for the City when you refuse to offer a water cooler for use in the existing building you wish to replace. Unless the city acts on your behalf. INTERESTING to say the least.

ajm3s writes:

in response to ajm3s:

Wake UP folks, some on the Council have agendas that I would consider to be fiscally irresponsible. And they ran and were elected on a platform of fiscal responsibility and to represent the folks. Does that just include a subset of families with kids in sport programs that live on this island?

Mr. Magel, is duplicitous a fair assessment based on your position?

Property owner's have a voice and it will not be hushed by those that do not represent me and others. Sorry, Ms. DiSullio, but you show your contempt for the City when you refuse to offer a water cooler for use in the existing building you wish to replace. Unless the city acts on your behalf. INTERESTING to say the least.

Correction: I meant to say she will RESTRICT the use of equipment and monies for P&R use. Imagine that she has a restrictive perspective on how the P&R should make use of its monies.

Well on that note she and I agree, we both believe in restrictions: She with use of fundraising monies and purchased equipment; I with taxpayer dollars.

ajm3s writes:

And to answer, Ms. DiSciullo as to why there are some who are recommending a referendum? Why do we need one now, we never needed one in the past?

Here are her words:

"We have no idea if a referendum will pass, but why is it needed now? So many city projects have gone through without referendum. Why now? Because it's for kids and families? It's for EVERYONE!!

Let me attempt to answer why we are asking for a referendum: SPENDING SPENDING SPENDING OUT OF CONTROL.

Imagine, Ms. DiSciullo, I believe is a CPA, and she does not get it. Is there a pattern to those that serve on Council? They become fiscally inept.

And memo to Ms. DiSciullo, Dog Park was established and outfitted with PRIVATE donations.

God help us ALL.

dc5799 writes:

Did Teri say old folks? Not nice.

terridisciullo writes:

in response to dc5799:

Did Teri say old folks? Not nice.

I would like to apologize for my "old folks" comment. I should have said older folks or short-sighted folks who oppose any spending on parks and recreation that will help families and children on Marco Island. Or folks in general who oppose any spending on parks and recreation that will help "all" people of Marco Island. Sometimes in my passion, I say things I don't mean as I'm sure everyone has done a few times in their lives. I am affected by rising costs as well in all aspects of my life and don't want to see more expenses for my family. Mr. Milk has worked hard and continues to work hard to bring a cost-effective solution to get a new community center built and is advocating a re-appropriation of funds in the budget, not more, in order to get this community center built - a fulfillment of the Master Plan for Mackle Park which was approved in November 2005 by the City Council. The Master Plan for Mackle Park was a public plan - there were many public meetings and opportunity for input, there were over 20 people on the committee who brought excellent ideas to the table and sent it forward to City Council. Again, I'm sorry for my old folks comment.

dc5799 writes:

in response to ajm3s:

Terri Barone DiSciullo March 3 at 1:10pm
Dear Friends,
As most of you know, we just partnered with the Island Country Club Charitable Foundation in their golf tournament. We will be getting approximately $22,000. This money will be restricted to the new specialty kitchen at the new community center. Approx. $1,000 will be used to purchase a new professional water cooler machine that Hector requested for the kids participating in the Optimist sports so that parents don't have to lug ice and pay for water. We will purchase it, and donate it to the park. The P & R Dept. will have a procedure for checking it out and being responsible for it.
We will not donate the money to the City until the City Council approves the building of the community center. It will stay in a restricted fund.
I would like to be frank with all of you now. I have sacrificed 12 years of my life, since Victoria was 3 years old to fight for families on Marco Island. There was NO Parks and Recs department, virtually no programming, no Kids Cove, no Spray Park, no Dog Park, no football field before I got onto City Council. I pushed the councilors at the time to set a budget for a P & R Dept. and to hire a park director - thank God for Dana Souza! How far has the City come since 2002. Carrie Canfield was right along side me serving on the P & R Advisory committee and fighting people every step of the way to get what the families on Marco deserved.
Now we have a building that is within our reach - now the same ole' same ole' negative anti-family anti-kid groups are shouting for a referendum to get this building built. We have no idea if a referendum will pass, but why is it needed now? So many city projects have gone through without referendum. Why now? Because it's for kids and families? It's for EVERYONE!!
The Island and families need your help. Larry Magel called me today to say that the new "homeowners group" is screaming for a referendum and are circulating a petition that it needs to go to referendum. He said I need to get in front of it - NO, I do not need to get in front of it. Other people like yourselves need to get out in front of it. I can no longer fight for families. I am the President of the Foundation. I want to help parks and recs to provide great services, and our Board has committed to help fundraise for the new community center. But, we cannot be in the lobbying business.
Larry said that he would love it if people got up to the podium Monday night and stated the following "I am Kim Burke, Chair of the Optimist Soccer, and I represent 100 families. We all support a new community center without referendum". It's as simple as that. The Council sent Bryan's proposal to the budget process. Bryan is going to 5 community centers from here to Sarasota to get their budgets and business plan. People aren't even giving him a chance to get his ducks in a row when this goes to budget in a couple of months.

Bryan will never get his ducks in a row,he killed them all.

ajm3s writes:

in response to terridisciullo:

I would like to apologize for my "old folks" comment. I should have said older folks or short-sighted folks who oppose any spending on parks and recreation that will help families and children on Marco Island. Or folks in general who oppose any spending on parks and recreation that will help "all" people of Marco Island. Sometimes in my passion, I say things I don't mean as I'm sure everyone has done a few times in their lives. I am affected by rising costs as well in all aspects of my life and don't want to see more expenses for my family. Mr. Milk has worked hard and continues to work hard to bring a cost-effective solution to get a new community center built and is advocating a re-appropriation of funds in the budget, not more, in order to get this community center built - a fulfillment of the Master Plan for Mackle Park which was approved in November 2005 by the City Council. The Master Plan for Mackle Park was a public plan - there were many public meetings and opportunity for input, there were over 20 people on the committee who brought excellent ideas to the table and sent it forward to City Council. Again, I'm sorry for my old folks comment.

I was first hand witness to the Plummer Park "improvements" several years ago when there was a plan to spend $250K. I watched the dismay on your husband's face when we as abutting neighbors questioned the wisdom of adding exercise stations, bandstands, enlarge parking area to what is considered a passive park. Yes, a passive park to be enjoyed at your leisure without the need for man-made objects requiring continued maintenance and to foster a vision that is not in keeping with the character of this island. A small tropical town which abutts one of the worlds greatest natural wildlife, the Everglades.

This P&R group you wish to direct and influence is nothing more than a wish list of "improvements to reduce the size of available park space to be replaced with edifices for the enjoyment and use by those that like to enjoy recreation indoors. And to add administration offices etc. for what I believe is an encroachment of city management to add to the list of future "improvements".

It is time to review your Master Plan because the times of government spending have reached a crescendo and now it is time to enjoy the fruits of our (taxpayers) labor and retire to peace and tranquility in natures backdoor. You know those old folks that were lured here by Deltona Corp as a place for retirement. You know those old folks that do not understand the need for "improvements".

It took you 11 years to repave the walking paths at Plummer Park, yet you have a Master Plan. Stay focused on the here and now. Your future if based on past performance looks eerily reminiscent of plans without proper fiscal review or management skills.

Imagine Mommy does not like old folks. No apologies needed, we get it.

RayPray writes:

Here's what Marco's slightly long-in-the-tooth but very own Lady Ta Ta had to say about Mangel Larry in 2009:

"...He had a great knowledge of finances."

"He is not involved with any one group on the Island and does not appear to align himself with any particular constituents...."

"He will ask the hard questions and make sure that our city council is being fiscally responsible when embarking on any project."

"I believe that Larry will represent ALL Marco Islanders."

"He has my vote...."

MarcoCitizen writes:

in response to terridisciullo:

You are and always have been a part of the problem.

Keep your money.

We are trying to keep ours.

Ocram (Inactive) writes:

Ms. Disciullo,

Sad, just very sad that you said what you did.

ajm3s writes:

Consider this from Ms. DiScuillo:

"If the P(3) goes through with Mills Gilbane, it will cost people with a $500,000 valued property only $38 per year - that's not more taxes - that's reappropriating funds from public works for instance or the BP Oil Spill reserve which is no longer needed."

Interesting, that she makes the point that it does not require more taxes, IT IS REAPPORTIONMENT. So essentially Public Works or the BP Oil Spill Fund is NO LONGER NEEDED.

This is a classic example of "publicthink" on how cities take monies for a dedicated use then transfer that use to another city division or different purpose.

If I was a fair queen of the sandbox, that money should be returned NOT transferred; or at least used for a similar purpose. Oil Spill fund was to address an emergency environment and economic impact, and I do not believe the Community expansion meets that test.

Or perhaps the Public Works folks actually need the money for other maintenance issues that have been neglected.

So Ms. DeScuillo, I do not subscribe to your recommendation that we simply re-appropriate funds. I believe this is one more example of how government gets in trouble. Is that not why Mr. Joel was finally dismissed?

I am looking for sound fiscal and property management. And if Ms. DeScuillo is such a dynamo, raise the money through your foundation and shut us up.

How's that for an idea. And who is responsible for cul-de-sacs, Public Works, P&R? How about we get back to basic and properly fund maintenance as a start? Like bridges that are used by ALL the folks.

RayPray writes:

in response to MarcoIslandWoman:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

"Old Folks...We have old folks on Marco Island."

Could this be true?

ratsnake writes:

in response to RayPray:

"Old Folks...We have old folks on Marco Island."

Could this be true?

Don't worry, Ray, they just look old. Apparently they still act like kids.

Marconian writes:

What I dont understand is why does the city continue to tell its employees that it does not have money to give raises (going on four years now)but the city has spent 100s of millions in the same breath on nice to have items. when the pay freeze began to city employees, when the council decided to stop giving raises (due to lack of funds)in that same meeting they gave $300,000 to the empty museum fund and continued to separate money ever since to fund millions of dollars of we want items and continue to ignore the fact that their employees are left behind to struggle as gas food rent and utiluties continue to rise when will council start to realize the common workers need raises.

Seawaller writes:

Terri DeScuillo wants an indoor track for the "kids". Kids play video games indoors. Ever hear parents use the expression "go outside and play"? I guess that should be changed to "go inside and play". I still can't fathom the need for an indoor track in southwest Florida. As for the "old folks" comment - get out any morning and look around. You'll see plenty of old folks walking, jogging, running OUTSIDE. Tourists come here and love it that they can get off the indoor treadmill up north and excercise outside here. No Ms.DeScuillo, this isn't for the kids or anybody else. This is an ego trip which you hope will culminate in getting a building named after yourself. And if you want to learn how to cook, i would suggest Johnson & Whales.

Marconian writes:

in response to MarcoIslandWoman:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I really Dont know how to take your comment, if it was in English or Actual Grammar I may see the humor in it. but I dont, their are real people and Families suffering from this and I cant make light of that.

Seawaller writes:

According to what was estimated that it would cost each taxpayer, I should be entitled to 4 square feet. I want to name it.

MarcoCitizen writes:

These commissions the City creates are just to justify spending on useless projects. Jim, create a commission to study reducing our crushing debt,selling some misguided acquisitions, reducing wasteful and duplicate spending like the Police and Fire which we also pay Collier County for and they are happy to take the money without having to give us the any service. Let's have some honesty and recognition of reality in our government

Fossil writes:

We have a voice. Did you forget who you voted for? Yes, elections have consequences. Politicians do not always hold the views of their constituents (actually, they hardly ever do). What we need is some form of district representation. Everytime our Council makes a decision that involves resources or projects we don't want, we scream out in protest to no avail. We falsely believe good government should be run by referendum. Well, let me clue you in to something. All a referendum will do is allow the majority of condo owners and renters to rule. It will also allow the Chamber to spend it's money on public messages to get only their view point across. We need to amend the City Charter to better reflect the needs and values of our community. We need representitives that live in our neighborhoods and can be held accountable to their neighbors. People we live next door to. People we know and trust. Candidates that actually share the same concerns and values that we do. What we have today in Marco Island, is a warped sense of Democracy. It is representation dictated by the Chamber of Commerce and whomever THEY want us to vote for. Money rules in Marco Island and that money comes from the business community. When we vote, we vote for what is good for business on Marco Island not necessarily what is good for our residents or homeowners. If we don't take action to change it, then we get the type of government we deserve and we have no right to complain. Just roll with the flow and do what you are told to do by those that know what's best for you.

Stilllaughing writes:

I've got 2 kids at Tommie Barfield and think the park improvements are a flagrant waste of our money. It's not just the "old folks" that oppose this. It's anyone who is capable of balancing a checkbook. Unfortunately this is not a skill anyone down at City Hall can demonstrate.
Let's face it, the park is for tourists and some of our politically connected to make a quick buck.
Ever notice who is using the (fought for 9 years) spray park, not my kids or their classmates. I thought spray parks were supposed to be padded. Kind of makes sense - Not ours, solid concrete. I'm very surprised the city hasn't been sued yet.
If you don't think it's all a show just for the tourists, go to the Easter egg hunt this year and see how many locals you can find.

MarcoCitizen writes:

Bryan is now proposing a scaled back expansion at Mackle.

There wasn't anything in the original proposal that was needed. Hopefully this wasteful project will be scaled down to zero. If not it just shows how in this city, commissions (appointed by and connected to the city staff) are encouraged to proposed unneeded and expensive extravagances and count on back door handshakes with the city council to rubber stamp.

How about a city commission (staffed with motivated citizens - not the usual cronies) to find ways to reduce spending and debt? Jim Reviere, please take note.

Mackle could however use a coat of interior paint. Bryan take note.

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