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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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: email@example.com.