The Greater Marco Island YMCA leadership has made it clear to city officials that the Y believes a referendum is essential to the process of creating a new community center at Mackle Park.
“We talked about it, but we didn’t press it,” says Y Board Member Dick Shanahan, of a possible referendum. “The Y board has not taken a vote on this, so it’s not official, but the executive committee and others feel this way.
“The Y’s position is one of supporting the clamor for a referendum, feeling that there is much controversy there relative to the size of the facility and expenditure involved, particularly at this time.
“That’s the most prudent way, if you will, to let the people make the decision. If they make a favorable decision to build the building, obviously we would support that feeling and work in collaboration with the city to provide the best services for the entire community.”
Asked about resistance to a referendum, perhaps including some members of the city council, Shanahan responded:
“I think it’s a dangerous precedent for them to take when it looks like the majority of people are clamoring for a referendum. It would be wise for these men to consider it. However I don’t think we need to go to a referendum on everything we do. That would be foolhardy.”
After his meetings at City Hall, Shanahan said he thinks that even before a referendum, there would be important changes to the design of any new community center from the one shown in the media.
The leadership of the Y also wants to make sure that activities and services that might be provided at the community center would not conflict with what the Y perceives as its purview.
“We specialize in fitness and in health care and aerobics and those are things that they have told us that they do not plan in including in the building. We take them at their word they would not compete on those core programs.
“Based on that scenario, that’s exactly how we feel. If they get a ‘yea’ from the community, wonderful, and we’ll support that, providing they live up to their commitment to stay out of the businesses that are most important to us.
“Both Bryan Milk and Jim Riviere told us they certainly have no intention of getting into the fitness business or the child care business.”