Marcophiles: Questions about new Mackle Park place; Are you serious?

CHRIS CURLE
Courtesy City of Marco Island
This rendering is of the proposed new community center for Mackle Park that would replace the current building. This one is almost 40,000 square feet. The cost: at least $7.2 million over 12 years.

Courtesy City of Marco Island This rendering is of the proposed new community center for Mackle Park that would replace the current building. This one is almost 40,000 square feet. The cost: at least $7.2 million over 12 years.

Chris Curle Special to the Eagle
A serious proposal is moving through the city government to build a two-story replacement for this building, the community center at Mackle Park. The new facility would be almost five times larger.

Chris Curle Special to the Eagle A serious proposal is moving through the city government to build a two-story replacement for this building, the community center at Mackle Park. The new facility would be almost five times larger.

The proposal to build a Taj Mahal-of-a-community center on Marco Island is raising more questions than a year of TV’s “Jeopardy.” And for good reason.

If we understand it, the expansion at Mackle Park would create a two-story complex almost five times the size of the current facility.

The wish list would include a 13,500 square foot enclosed gym, an indoor track, a technology room and a “specialty/teaching kitchen.”

A builder offers to put up the fun-and-games palace and lease it back to the city for only $600,000 per year for 12 years. That comes to $7,200,000. There’s more. One particularly odd persuasion point reportedly is that TV chef person Rachael Ray might provide pots and pans for the kitchen. That could be a deal clincher right there.

Seriously, a few questions are in order:

Why build it so big? Are we expecting a population explosion on Marco? Will our 17,000 or so full-timers become four or five times that many in the next decade or so? In the next millennium maybe?

Is there a seething, sautéing, double-boiler demand by taxpayers here that Marco become the “teaching kitchen” capital of the western world?

Why such a huge gym? We could fit almost three NBA regulation basketball courts in there. We also could have 12.5 average-size zumba classes going at any given moment in there, even if a game of hoops is underway. Oh the synergy.

Why a track indoors? Is it designed for individual exercisers or organized track events? Both? Why not let runners enjoy the miles and miles of outdoor shared walkways, paths, etc., that have been installed at considerable expense?

Would other potential developers be allowed to bid for the job if we unwisely plow ahead with this project based on wants, not needs? If not why not?

When it’s argued that now is a good time to build because interest rates and builders’ prices are low, should we not stop and think why that is?

It’s because the economy is struggling to get out of a massive recession which has crunched Marco’s real estate and construction industries, eviscerated consumer credit and cost jobs. So it’s cheaper than in the past. So what? It’s still millions of dollars of taxpayers money for a gold-plated fun house we do not need.

That’s the key word – need. Proponents of this project need to make an iron-clad case before we should even think about going forward.

Who and how many Islanders are suffering or even inconvenienced by lack of a teaching kitchen? What is a “technology” room? Are we destined for third world status if we don’t have that?

Why should the city own a “multi-purpose” room with an eye to leasing it for banquets, weddings and such? Don’t we have plenty of those facilities already in hotels and restaurants? They’re paying taxes. Why should government spend money to compete with them?

Our city should focus on cutting costs, just as its citizens are having to do. Day dreams are nice, but people whose dreams would be financed with other people’s money need a wakeup call.

‘Arts Afire’ catches fire this weekend

What could be Marco’s biggest single arts celebration ever begins Saturday.

It offers some of the best that Marco artists of various persuasions can offer, including ways for you to be directly involved. One of those, the finale event, is the “After Glow Gala” on March 20th. Tickets are available online now at the Arts Afire website: www.marcoislandartsafire.com.

That web site has details on the entire week’s festivities. including something for everyone, from mimes to sandcastle building, from a teens dance party to antique car shows and more.

Go to the Arts Afire website and click on the “Schedule” bar on the right side, just above

“Today’s Events.”

Art League steps up to help Lely basketball program

If you see those jugs with money in them at some island stores and shops, say thanks to the Art League. They are recycled from MICA’sProject Rescue and now are depositories for donations to help the Lely Boys Basketball Club.

The jugs are at Curves, Hoot’s, Red Rooster, Island Liquor, Kretch’s, Marco Island Brewery, Club Marco Fitness, Rookies, Rick’s Island Salon, Progressive Car Wash, Paradise Seafood, Joey’s Pizza & Pasta and Winn Dixie’s grocery and liquor stores.

Go bats at the Batfish Bash this Saturday

It’s a fundraiser sponsored by friends of Rookery Bay, March 12 from 6-10 p.m. at the center on Tower Road.

Excellent wines will accompany seafood gumbo, Bertha Lowdermilk’s Wild Boar Sundae, Chokoloskee Chicken, Palmetto Pasta and more.

The clincher: The Raiford Starke Band will be rocking Rookery Bay. For information phone (239) 262-0750.

Chris Curle is a former news anchor for CNN and for ABC-TV stations in Washington, D.C., Atlanta and Houston. E-mail chris@chriscurle.com.

Don is a former ABC News correspondent and bureau chief and a former news anchor for CNN and ABC-TV, in Atlanta. His Farmer File column appears Fridays in the Naples Daily News. E-mail: don@donfarmer.com.

© 2011 marconews.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Comments » 14

ajm3s writes:

Oh no! Another Community member who is not in favor of a Community expansion.

Common Sense please everyone, the request for an expanded Community Center is the brain trust of a select community group that believes Parks should include large buildings.

Ask the P&B what they envisioned for Plummer Park? See if this is the community you drove by when you first arrived.

If I recall we fell in love with this island for what it was not for what is envisioned. P&B and Council are always looking for money instead of enjoying what we have. When will they get it?

Mr. Magel even asked if they could get more revenue from Farmers Market if they extended it to include Saturdays. Can't we just settle in and enjoy what we have?

ajm3s writes:

in response to MarcoIslandWoman:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Think Big? Big is not better for Marco Island. If you want Big lets have a Big Box store on Marco Island for they comprise the biggest retailers in America, and then you can make the claim we can now shop locally.

Or do you mean big as in BIG government.

Enjoy your bigness. I like my life experienced in small day to day moments not controlled by big government on my small privately held property on this space we share, earth.

And consider the mutually beneficial relationship between Big government and big business, does it lead to ............... big ideas? Or more subsidies.

Yeah, ethanol for fuel in America was a big idea. I say drink it, don't burn it, it is better for the environment.

Is_It_True_Partially_True_Or_Not_True (Inactive) writes:

in response to MarcoIslandWoman:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Todays thinkings of Mz. Marianne,

"Your verbosity is exceeded only by your stupidity."

marieonmarco writes:

Right on!! We don't need a "gold-plated fun house" at this time.

MrBreeze writes:

The problem of Marco Island is excess. You see it everwhere.

When the money was flowing the spending was endless. People were buying million dollar homes, million dollar boats, fleets of luxury cars.

The leadership of Marco Island and residents included want to keep that lifestyle going. Along with that comes costs and like I have said many times here before Marco Island is like a Country Club. If you cannot afford to pay for the club well then you cannot be a member.

I can vision the future of the island as being just that. The older homes which were being torn down just a few years ago will again take place. The City believes that providing high end centers such as proposed will attract high end buyers.

This is all and well but not for "joe lunchbox" or "retired Joe lunchbox". This is where the island will change. The change began long ago and that is why most of us own property here today.

Everyone think back to the day that you first came to Marco Island. If you came over the bridge and found a town that was run down and kinda dumpy would you still buy property and own it today?

If the answer is yes than you are fooling yourself. I like all others bought here for the quality I saw the first visit. I saw the small nice town on the beech and water. I saw the quality of people already living here. I saw that it was attracting high end housing and people with money. I saw that and more.

The City will continue to spend to keep this quality of life up but many will not be able to afford it and will be forced to leave and others will take there spot.

This is future as I see it on Marco Island.

RayPray writes:

in response to MrBreeze:

The problem of Marco Island is excess. You see it everwhere.

When the money was flowing the spending was endless. People were buying million dollar homes, million dollar boats, fleets of luxury cars.

The leadership of Marco Island and residents included want to keep that lifestyle going. Along with that comes costs and like I have said many times here before Marco Island is like a Country Club. If you cannot afford to pay for the club well then you cannot be a member.

I can vision the future of the island as being just that. The older homes which were being torn down just a few years ago will again take place. The City believes that providing high end centers such as proposed will attract high end buyers.

This is all and well but not for "joe lunchbox" or "retired Joe lunchbox". This is where the island will change. The change began long ago and that is why most of us own property here today.

Everyone think back to the day that you first came to Marco Island. If you came over the bridge and found a town that was run down and kinda dumpy would you still buy property and own it today?

If the answer is yes than you are fooling yourself. I like all others bought here for the quality I saw the first visit. I saw the small nice town on the beech and water. I saw the quality of people already living here. I saw that it was attracting high end housing and people with money. I saw that and more.

The City will continue to spend to keep this quality of life up but many will not be able to afford it and will be forced to leave and others will take there spot.

This is future as I see it on Marco Island.

This is very perceptive.

"The City believes that providing high end centers such as proposed will attract high end buyers. This is all and well but not for "joe lunchbox" or "retired Joe lunchbox".

This is not necessarily a bad municipal strategy. It would be nice, though, if the establishment were more honest in discussing it.

One reason for the smug and disappointing nature of our City Council and government follows this gentrification of a formerly middle class island.

The wealthy families who buy here are often just barely around and spend so much on home landscaping and maintenance that the extra they have to pay in fees and taxes because of resources squandered by the City Council mismanagement is of only meager interest to them.

When I question these people, who, though only occasionally here, pay steep taxes what they think of our City government its train of boondoggles, they usually reply that it's just not worth their while to even pay attention to it at all.

For our City Council elections, then, none of these potentially talented individuals even considers running.

For this reason, each election we end up with only the handful of dubious characters that is presented to us.

ajm3s writes:

in response to MrBreeze:

The problem of Marco Island is excess. You see it everwhere.

When the money was flowing the spending was endless. People were buying million dollar homes, million dollar boats, fleets of luxury cars.

The leadership of Marco Island and residents included want to keep that lifestyle going. Along with that comes costs and like I have said many times here before Marco Island is like a Country Club. If you cannot afford to pay for the club well then you cannot be a member.

I can vision the future of the island as being just that. The older homes which were being torn down just a few years ago will again take place. The City believes that providing high end centers such as proposed will attract high end buyers.

This is all and well but not for "joe lunchbox" or "retired Joe lunchbox". This is where the island will change. The change began long ago and that is why most of us own property here today.

Everyone think back to the day that you first came to Marco Island. If you came over the bridge and found a town that was run down and kinda dumpy would you still buy property and own it today?

If the answer is yes than you are fooling yourself. I like all others bought here for the quality I saw the first visit. I saw the small nice town on the beech and water. I saw the quality of people already living here. I saw that it was attracting high end housing and people with money. I saw that and more.

The City will continue to spend to keep this quality of life up but many will not be able to afford it and will be forced to leave and others will take there spot.

This is future as I see it on Marco Island.

When we came over the bridge, we fell in with the beach, quaintness of the island, and tropical weather. At that time it came with a small community center, small city hall, small town center.

If you want big, we passed that on 951 and Rt 41, you will see big developments with big stores. If you want a special experience as found when I first crossed the bridge, the big government and public indoor facilities are not the key. But somehow, everyone thinks it is a good thing. Really?

What I see, on this island, is that the interests of a few are leveraging the tax revenue from many non-voting residents who live part-time, or vacation rentals owners, as well as voting retired full-time residents. Interestingly, I believe many retirees, or old folks per Ms. DeScuillo, are residents that live on fixed income or retirement investment earnings. This group does not want to increase taxes or enlarge government and/or public facilities. And as a city, all these groups make up a higher proportionate share than you find in non-resort cities, because of the aforementioned qualities, i.e. beaches and weather, which are not created by governments.

So I ask all the FOLKS, are a few families leveraging many? I say they are, because the cities I have visited in my travails, would be contemptuous of what we currently have. But here some still insist we do not have enough. Really?

As a child, I would be told they are spoiled brats because they never have enough and they want more for themselves. But they will insist, you can use it as well.

So as an adult, I will not remain silent, and challenge Ms. DeScuilo and others with the need to spend our monies for more stuff. May I suggest, you go to your room and reflect on the things we have and not on what others can provide for you.

I like spending my money on things I will use and enhance value, and they generally are found located on private property; NOT public facilities especially indoor.

Is_It_True_Partially_True_Or_Not_True (Inactive) writes:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

LadueVGilleo writes:

Thank you, Dumbrovnik! You took the words right out of my post!

Jojo writes:

As I sat at the city council meeting the other night I realized that they don't have a clue to what is needed or not need on this Island. I am sure none of our esteemed council members have see the inside of a gym any many years, run on a indoor track or gone out of their house to use a community computer lab. This facility is not being built for the citizens of Marco. It is being build for the High School. This is a way of getting the people of Marco Island to pay for the infastructure of this lame high school. They don't have the funds to build their own facilites, let alone fund the cost of a high school. We know city council supports this high school and they are going to make the citizens of Marco pay for it. We don't need a gym, indoor track, culinary kitchen or computer lab, but a high school will need all of these. The community is a Trojan Horse and will only destroy the economy of this island

MrBreeze writes:

Pray Ray you get it! You think just as I do although you blasted me the other day about the Jolley Bridge. I do see the connection between the two. People who have wealth are not bothered by these "little" things that effect the "regular Joe" Now granted, not every regular Joe can live on Marco Island but Ray as you stated the wealthy see this as trivial and a bother.

Now the problem. Would you rather see community improvments that enhance value and quality of living on the island or would you rather see some run down hut that is in need of repair? The answer is difficult due to the fact that the run down hut is bad and the improved is costly and could result in current residents not being able to stay to enjoy the improvments.

Do you believe that the City and powerfull people of the island do not see the future of the island with new improvments? Things like the new bridge, new sewers (strp) new community center, new city hall, enhanced fire and police protection. How can one slight these things on the positive side but how about who is going to pay for them? Back to the wealthy no problem. Joe lunchbox, big problem. Retired Joe lunchbox, bigger problem due to less pension lower dividends on investments ect.

Solution is not an easy one due to the fact the wealthy really and truly do not want to live with Joe lunchbox. They want be amoung their own kind and compare the millions not the dollars. They do not want to live next door to a 1969 Deltona house unless the servants are living in it. They just want that "elite" status and Marco Island has that to offer with the beech and water and the high end realestate that already exists.

Go down Collier and see all the high rises. Go to the Estates and see the wealth. I sometimes feel out of place with my home and feel that one day I might be forced out due to costs. My home is not multimillon but I am very proud of it. I have many friends that feel that I am fortunate to even own a home on Marco Island due to it is very nice. I feel that we are all fortunante to own property here question is "Will we be able to keep it"?

I see this as a pivitol time in the history of Marco Island as big as when the Mackel Brothers first visioned it built and they were no fools by a longshot.

MrBreeze writes:

Marco Island Woman. If you are a billionare than your support for the new center makes sense. However by reading your posts I think you just like to stir the pot more than state the facts.

The island is changing lets wait and see how it turns out.

ajm3s writes:

McBreeze: I like your post. But I believe the wealth you describe like privacy, to be indiscrete and could care less as RayPray describes.

My beef, is that the City is always looking for new revenue to spend monies on government run facilities with a claim it is for all the folks.

I see the Community Center as an extension of a school or a place for "free" entertainment. Look at the specifications and size of the facility. If this is not a vocational school, then call me s-----.

We can all agree or disagree as to what constitutes a "hut" but this island is somewhat diverse, in that it attracts several folks:
1. tourist and vacationers
2. retirees
3. working families
4. investors (ie. rentals)

To your question regarding improvements, may I suggest that the best improvement and most dramatic is not spending monies on public edifices but getting all the foreclosures turned over into private hands with a goal to be improved as a result of pride or investment potential, which then attracts more folks, both vacationers that fall in love and perhaps purchase and retire here. Improvements of private properties would have the single most effective umph for increasing property values.

Now look at how the City assists as well as deters improvements.

An example of civic effectiveness:

The code compliance and et. al. are quietly doing their jobs in resolving foreclosures. The key is to get the property back into private hands. Code Compliance et al. are working diligently, with no lamentations or fanfare, and no associated foundation. They offer the best example of effective government. Excellent group and proud to make the claim on their behalf.

Examples of deterrence:

All related government operations which increase cost without a benefit above prior conditions, ie. STRP, purchase of water facility, purchase of Glon property.

So a single expanded community center, or expanded fire capacity or new hotel in Town Center, will not attract wealthy folks. Only other folks that want to be here and the government that best serves the community is one that serves the entire community not a special group, be it wealthy or child centric.

Think of the incremental improvements to private property driven by personal pride or financial incentives. And any city program that competes for resources to improve private property etc. works against it.

MrBreeze writes:

Agm3s, I agree with you. I just see how the island is changing. Lets face it, most of us were tourists or visitors to the island and did indeed fall in love with it. I know I did. I love it today and do not want to be chased out by lack of funds to retain a home here. I have seen many people come and go in my neighborhood in the 10 years I have owned a home here.

I was told how nice the island was in the early 90's and was a visitor. After not being able to afford the high prices in the late 90's my chance came in 2001 right after 911 there was a little down time in the realestate market. I have endured high taxes through the years with the hope to retire and use the house.

I only hope that I can afford to.......

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