MARCO ISLAND — In the aftermath of the newly-adopted Marco Island budget, City Parks and Recreation Director Bryan Milk reported to his citizens’ advisory panel.
“This year, it’s pay as you go,” said Milk of the city’s participation in the YMCA swimming programs. “We’re going to fund swimming, but not operations.” The final mechanism, he told the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board during their meeting at City Hall Tuesday afternoon, had yet to be worked out.
Parks and rec, Milk said, had taken a 30 percent budget reduction, but would still be able to provided the services islanders have come to expect.
“We have the money for our programs. It’s comforting we can run the programs we ran last year.” Community grant money that was cut, he said would mostly affect three areas – the Y, the Fourth of July fireworks, and special events.
“There was a stipend for fireworks, $10,000, and the grant money for special events was lost,” he said. City funding of island events should be looked at as seed money, Milk told the board.
“We tell people, by the third event, you should be on your own. We want to help you get started.”
While Parks and Rec had not cut any positions, he said, the department had saved money in human resources.
“We’ve gained some dollars back through a hands-on approach to personnel,” said Milk, and in response to a question from board member Valerie Murphy, confirmed there would be no in-kind services used.
One big savings came from producing the booklet of Parks and Rec offerings in-house, rather than going to an outside printer, said Parks and Rec’s Lola Dial, distributing the pamphlets to committee members. By purchasing high-end copy machines, capable of color printing, collating, folding, and stapling, the city was able to take a job that three years ago was budgeted at $25,000, and do it for $4,000, with shorter turnaround time and greater flexibility, Dial and Milk told the board.
Dial ran down some of the upcoming programs included in the brochures, her enthusiasm clearly visible. She put out a call for help with the large public events, such as the Halloween Spooktacular coming up in October.
“We’ll have 4,000 people at Mackle Park. Anyone who needs community time, we’d love to have you,” she said.
“I’m wearing this awesome t-shirt,” she said, standing up to model the new shirt promoting the city’s farmers’ market. “We’ll be selling these t-shirts at the farmers’ market. We want to get the logo out there.”
In the sixth year of the market, “we’ve raised dues, and we expect another row of vendors down the middle,” said Milk, as well as six booths for non-profits. “It’s so busy, the congestion should be inside the market, not out.” The city will also be selling market bags for customers to carry their finds.
Recreation supervisor Alex Galiana reported on progress at the city’s Racquet Center.
“The courts are done on 3 and 4. They are the hottest courts in town,” he said. “Now that we have six courts, we’re hosting the summer swing,” for the last event on October 12. “There’s a lot of life in the racquet center.”
The board discussed the issue of mingling runners and Rover, when cross country races go past the dog park, and the upcoming Jolley Be Good race, tied in with the dedication of the new bridge span.
To open the meeting, YMCA of Greater Marco Island CEO Cindy Love shared the Y’s plans for expansion of their facilities, and spoke about the need to coordinate with Parks and Rec to avoid duplication of services. Later, Milk assured the board that the expanded community center at Mackle Park had not been stripped from the budget, and development work on various cost alternatives continues.
The next meeting of the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board is scheduled for October 18 at City Hall.