MARCO ISLAND — The score Tuesday for saving Tommie Barfield Elementary’s tennis courts was love-nothing.
Bryan Milk, Marco Island community affairs director, told the Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee the city plans to remove the two courts’ nets, take down city signs and cease maintenance and repairs. The committee, surprised by the decision, asked for reconsideration.
“I’ve played on those courts and the citizens use them,” said Stacy Needles, committee vice chairwoman.
The two courts stand on Collier County School Board land and are open and free to residents through an inter-local agreement between the board and the city. At one time, the courts were used for overflow from the city’s Racquet Center on San Marco Road. Milk said the city no longer used the TBE courts for league play.
The decision was not taken lightly, Milk told the committee, and was made last week by City Manager Jim Riviere. City staff met with the school board’s facilities managers about the poor condition of the courts and asked for repairs. Milk said the school board showed no interest in spending the $10,000 it would take to fix the problem.
The city also did not want to make repairs.
“This is solely a budget consideration by both parties,” Milk said. Without repairs, the courts pose a safety risk the city does not want on its shoulders, he said.
The city will continue with its reciprocal agreement to maintain TBE’s baseball fields. The fields are key to the city’s adult and youth leagues, Milk said.
City staff also maintains Marco Island Charter Middle Schools’ football fields, but Milk said the city received payment for its work on a fee for service basis. Maintenance of the football fields raised between $3,000-$4,000 last year.
Needles made a motion to ask the city manager to find a way to make the courts playable. The motion passed by a vote of 4-1 with Greg West dissenting.
In other business, Milk outline three possible funding sources for the new community center at Mackle Park. He estimated a mortgage would require payments of $250,000 per year. He was waiting for cost estimates for two other possibilities: Aa private-public partnership or a lease with step payments.
Milk said he should have estimates ready by Friday and plans to present them to the city’s sub-committee on capital expenditures on May 24. He told the committee he would have a better idea of the project’s scope, including whether a gymnasium would be housed in the new building, when the estimates were prepared.
Public speaker Ray Seward said his homeowner’s group would be authoring an island-wide survey asking what residents look for from the island. He suggested the question of recreation activities and the community center would be part of the survey.
Milk reported that Camp Mackle, the city’s summer youth program, had received more early registrations than last year. He estimated 85 percent of attendees were Marco Island residents or children of visitors staying on the island. Camp Mackle’s Kick Off Day is scheduled for June 7.
The next meeting of the Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee is scheduled for 3:30 p.m., June 19, in City Hall’s 1st Floor Conference Room, 50 Bald Eagle Drive.