Marco Island property owners question Mackle Park building expansion costs

Paul Meyer, chairman of the Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee, and Stacy Needles, vice chairwoman, listen Tuesday as Community Affairs Director Bryan Milk explains the hope of finding donations to help fund Mackle Park's building expansion. Cheryl Ferrara / Eagle Correspondent

Paul Meyer, chairman of the Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee, and Stacy Needles, vice chairwoman, listen Tuesday as Community Affairs Director Bryan Milk explains the hope of finding donations to help fund Mackle Park's building expansion. Cheryl Ferrara / Eagle Correspondent

Marco Island's Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee meets on "home turf" at Mackle Park Tuesday for its regularly scheduled meeting. Cheryl Ferrara / Eagle Correspondent

Marco Island's Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee meets on "home turf" at Mackle Park Tuesday for its regularly scheduled meeting. Cheryl Ferrara / Eagle Correspondent

— Public comment sparked renewed debate over plans to build a one-story gymnasium, teen center, adult center and welcome area expansion at Mackle Park.

Public speaker Joe Rola asked for an update on the new building at the Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee meeting Tuesday.

Bryan Milk, community affairs director, said plans are progressing to fund a $4 million building and to negotiate a leaseback partnership with a selected builder. He said offers have been received from Mills Gilbane Building Company, Phoenix Associates, and more recently, Kraft Construction.

Marco Island City Council included $600,000 for Mackle Park’s building project in its 2013 budget and subsequent budgets that would amount to $3 million, Milk said. He is looking at proposals that would set a leaseback payment at about $400,000 per year but did not specify the number of years.

“Starting in 2013 you have $400,000 in the leaseback, but zero in operating costs and zero in personnel. This needs to be a full plan,” said Rola.

A second public speaker, Ray Seward, agreed that covering the structure’s cost was only part of the equation.

“Looking at some past investments made, no government does a good job managing a business investment,” Seward said.

Milk agreed that a full plan would include operating costs and suggested that all funding would not necessarily come from the city’s budget.

“We’re looking for any donations, but they have been insignificant to this point. People may be waiting to see what happens with council, but we have plans for legacy sponsors, pavers, etc,” he said.

Rola and Seward asked why the proposed building had not been put to referendum.

“People are upset about what the city is doing and are asking, ‘Don’t we have a say?’ ” Seward said. “We need to get the opinion of the people.”

Committee vice chairwoman Stacy Needles said more was at stake than just money.

“It’s about what quality of life it (the new building) will bring to the island,” she said. “Look at the county’s parks. They’re not paying for themselves.”

Seward agreed that if people on the island were made aware of Mackle Park’s use and how it would benefit them, they might buy into the expansion.

“Our concern is business-based. Will the programs support the building? Are we going to be paying more taxes?” he asked.

Both public speakers said they would continue to collect data on the project as representatives of Marco Island Property Owners. The group formed in 2010 as Marco Island Homeowners Association and subsequently changed its name and charter in November 2011 to include all types of property owners.

In other business, the committee decried Collier County School Superintendent Kamela Patton’s decision to do away with using the “Wednesday folders” to send recreation and events information home with schoolchildren. Outside groups such as the YMCA, city parks and recreation, the Boy Scouts or other organizations are restricted from using the folders.

All flyers and information now must be submitted electronically for acceptance; and then, will be placed on the website, Committee members wondered how students who come from homes without computers would be able to access which programs were available to them.

“She’s making a big mistake,” said committee chairman Paul Meyer of the superintendent. “I don’t want my kids staring at a computer to see what’s happening tomorrow.”

Committee members agreed to send individual letters to the superintendent expressing how her decision will affect the community.

The next meeting of the Parks and Recreation Advisory committee is scheduled for 3:30 p.m., Feb. 21, in City Hall’s 1st Floor Conference Room, 50 Bald Eagle Drive.

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Comments » 13

marco97 writes:

Milk your days are numbers as well as other City employees. In the next elections there are people who will run who want to cut the city budget to the bone and I believe they will get elected because the people of Marco Island have had enough of tax and spend and never being asked what they want. Get your resume ready you are going to need it.

marcofriend writes:

It would also be nice to ask who uses the park. It is not only the people of Marco Island. On weekends there are plenty of East Naples families here using the facilities. I don't have an issue with that, except I pay the taxes and others reap the benefits. Marco Islanders should have a card for use and without this card there should be a fee. This way everyone pays their fair share.

The Level of Service Report states that both Mackle Park and Veterans Memorial Park were to have referendums for funding any future expansions. I guess it goes to show you all how important our opinions are. If everyone believes most islanders want a huge expansion, then they will vote for it. Why are they so afraid to ask?

happy6 writes:

let's not milk has a staff that is huge...compared to what they the he-- does he do...
our city mgr is asleep at the wheel and cashing his paycheck and laughing.

ajm3s writes:

Folks, pay attention, this community needs more folks like Joe Rola et al who are not afraid to ask the pertinent questions.

What we get is a city sponsored P&R committee that in essence considers costs with a very limited view especially with regard to the impact of its citizens. Remember, the citizens NEEDED a culinary teaching facility to be included in its design, as well as an air conditioned gym.

Folks, time to pay attention, or else the city will go on its merry way down the yellow brick road to a land of Oz, a land that is devoid of reality and vision.

From this city, we have a larger than life waste treatment facility that is overcapacity and could perhaps handle a population twice the its current peak during season.

I find it interesting that the P&R went down the same path with a Community Center that began as a 40K ft2 facility.

Is this a planning pattern? Larger than needed waste treatement facility, larger than needed Community Center. Well if you talk to folks who have lived on this island for decades, they will advise you that the city is planning for a community twice its current population.

Please, tell me I hope they are wrong am wrong,because this is not what we fell in love. But the reality: all the city initiatives embrace "progress" with size. And it could be expressed with a famous McDonald ad campaign, now documented as the "Supersize" strategy.

Well folks, welcome to Marco Island, we can supersize your island.

sailingby writes:

The City needs to start posting the Parks and Rec's Committee agendas (not just the dates of meetings), meeting minutes and related documents in full on the City website. There is a webpage devoted to this: ( ) but as City Staff Liaison, Bryan Milk has not followed through. He needs to make the proceedings more transparent.

Since Mr. Milk is the Staff Liaison for 3 major advisory committees/boards (Beautification-now pushing for replacing rocks in swales with sod, Parks and Recs now pushing a huge expansion with potential public/private business deals, and the Planning Board, in addition his position as Community Services Director), he has huge power to influence and therefore, huge responsibility to keep the public informed about the proceedings. This may help reduce tensions by keeping the public in the loop and provide more oversight to his alarmingly expanding and apparently unchecked roles.

In fact, the minutes, agendas and related documents from all committee/board meetings should be posted for the public welfare.

The City Council could easily request the City Manager provide this service to the public. Presumably, in compliance with Florida's Sunshine laws, agendas are being publicly posted in advance and minutes are being recorded so timely uploading them to the website should not be a burden.

Throat_Yogurt writes:

Gym? Teen center? = YMCA = FREE

captnjimbo writes:

Looking for donations is a clear admission that we don't have the money for this right now. I have faith that people will eventually start coming to Marco for can see the market picking up monthly but until the tax base is rebuilt we should just cool it a little on big capital expenditures.

ajm3s writes:

I sense that the P&R committee is crafting a new "public/private" partnership (the new lexicon for alignment of private concerns to city interest).

Beware of "public/private" partnerships, it is the new lexicon to define private corporate influence on public/city contracts or favorable planning board influence. Granted it is my limited view of public funding policy,but a large potential donation by a private corporation to fund a public Community Center distorts the normal funding process. If a public building fund requires private donations or a large corporate donor to get off the ground, that speaks volumes as to the lack of PUBLIC support since it is now subsidized by select donors.

I can hear the critics, why would I want to discourage private donations? Because it distorts the public nature of public support. Or as those more astute than myself, it reeks of influence peddling.

ajm3s writes:

I forgot to add. So what can one do to disprove my hypothesis? And confirm the city of Marco Island's position, that the folks want this new facility with all its bells and whistles.

Simply allow a referendum vote in the next election cycle.

Please add this comment for discussion at the Town Hall meeting on Monday.

marco826 writes:

Once again, Council is out of Control. What else can we dream up to "improve the quality of life"? Happy is he who is satisfied Stacy. Marco is lovely enough and doesn't need hugh debt and higher taxes. Cost of living here is too high already. You work for us!

dc5799 writes:

How is my quality of life improving with a new gym and higher taxes? I am in my seventies Stacy, Bryan, and council get a life.Make my golden years really golden and peaceful.

naples_rocket writes:

in response to Throat_Yogurt:

Gym? Teen center? = YMCA = FREE

YMCA is far from free

JohninMarco writes:

in response to naples_rocket:

YMCA is far from free

Neither is this. I do not see any where in the story how the city plans to pay for the buildings up-keep or it utilities. As per usual their is no plan, aka the sewers.

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