Marco’s City Manager Jim Riviere says it’s not too soon to talk about a new community center for Mackle Park. But does makes clear that it is premature to think that many of the plans, proposals and dreams of some advocates will survive a vigorous “scrubbing.”
That’s how he describes what he thinks is needed before an agreement can be reached — and a way to pay for it.
In our recent interview with Riviere we asked about several relevant issues.
n What about the drawings presented at a workshop and in the Eagle?
“Those pictures came out of that master plan back in January 2005, the dream days. The drawings are not representative of what would get authorized for a community center these days. Times have changed. Wishes have to be foregone.
“If you look at it from its basic structure, it would be a one-story affair, not a two-story affair. Two stories give you a multiplier on the cost of such a place and it wouldn’t be completely outfitted.”
n What about the idea floated that a builder from Rhode Island put it up and lease it back to the city. Where did that come from?
“You know it’s sort of a salvo that came in over the transom.”
n What about the question of bids on such a project? There was no mention of bids except from people who didn’t like the idea.
“The whole idea was to present a concept and it looked like it was a sales pitch, not an enlightenment pitch. I got the impression of the thing as more of a, ‘What do you think guys, shall we sit down and pen an agreement?’
“And I’m thinking to myself that there’s no agreement coming here. We’ve got years to work on this. We’ve got the community (that must first) express support for it. At that same meeting, people were looking around and later some people jumped up and said we were all crazy. There was no community voice in that room.”
n The proposal included a serious “teaching” kitchen. Why is it the city’s responsibility to teach people how to cook?
“It isn’t. It’s a youth program. These are all youths and it’s something they are all interested in. You have programs you can offer them. They elected not to play mah jong, but the older people did.”
n What if you built just a building with basic facilities?
“Hang on to that thought, basic facilities. We’re providing basic grounds right now; the Optimists are running the (youth sports) program and we’re providing them excellent baseball opportunities, excellent soccer and football opportunities. We don’t have basketball capability, because we don’t have a gymnasium. We may never have a gymnasium. There’s a pickup, you can go half court out there in that little covered area there but that’s not really acceptable.”
n Some people believe the grandiose plans for a community center are part of a secret plan to provide facilities for the proposed charter high school. Your thoughts?
“I guess it would be reasonable if you believe they have the clout to do that. I don’t believe they have the clout to do that.”
n What about the high school effort in general?
“It’s an important subject to discuss, the education of the children on the Island, but are you building an educational facility to attract people to the Island?
“I’ve heard a dissertation from someone who I believe had one foot on the stage of the Board of Realtors and one foot on the stage of the charter school.
“They talked about what a panacea this would be if we had a high school here, that people would swarm to here and our real estate property (values) would go up and it would all be in such demand that people would be bidding for property on the Island.
“It was an absurd presentation of what could result from this.”
Riviere recalled a particular issue when he was on the city’s planning board.
“Back when the Baptists wanted to put in a high school, I don’t recall a single person coming up and yelling that the Island was going to sink or the world would come to an end or that they made too much noise or anything about that high school at the Baptist church. What is the difference?”
The question arose of how the city manager deals with opinions expressed in blogs.
“My policy is not to read blogs and not to read letters to the editor. That makes my day happier and my caffeine level doesn’t have to be so high to survive.”