Letter to the Editor: The Mackle Park civic travesty

After two City Council workshop sessions pondering the future of our Mackle Park Community Center, ‘We the People’ of Marco Island continue to appear to be victims of rather than participants in our municipal government’s expensively doleful decisions and political nonsense.

Lo and behold, suddenly, our Mackle Park facilities have been determined to be “ ... aging and neglected ... horribly out of code ... lacking space and equipment ... and needing major repairs and reconstruction!”

Why now? Did this tragic demise and resulting chaos along with obvious civic discord just happen overnight? And, of course, it’s a multi-million dollar property tax burden that is serenely proposed as a reasonable solution absent any public referendum and rejecting any comprehensive community assessments, inputs or pragmatic alternatives.

Why weren’t these glaring Mackle Park maladies and system deficiencies treated and remediated as they occurred in the past 10 years or so? Who in government is responsible for such gross failures to care for and maintain such valuable public property? Why has such neglect been ignored by our City Council during the past decade as our municipal debt soared to nearly $300 million? Are there any safeguards or guarantees that such public misfortune and lamentable waste will not continue as a standard operating procedure of our current City Council?

In brief, do ‘We the People’ of Marco Island have to stand down daily as our City Council continually spends up due to its own gross negligence, incompetence and just plain indifference to the the needs and desires of ‘We the People?’

Sayre Uhler

Marco Island

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Comments » 5

MarcoDefender writes:

Mr. Uhler - I understand your letter, and agree that fiscal responsibility is critical, but don't presume to consider that all "The People" of Marco are opposed to this improvement in our park facilities. Despite that poor decisions that have been made in the past to balloon the city debt service to an extreme amount, we shouldn't be so careless to just throw out the baby with the bath water. Any appropriate decision should be based on its merits, and if the business case and requirements of compliance are justified, then the direction and action will be appropriate. The research and validation of the information continues and I would have expected that you would approve of the due diligence, as the city staff works actively to ensure all the necessary data and information is fully vetted and shared with "the people". It would appear that just because you don't agree with the facts on the status of the site and center, you are negative about the direction. Please, I urge to you evaluate the facts here, which is surely you would have expected to have happened years ago when the purchase of the Utility was being considered.

As someone who utilizes the Mackle Park facilities frequently, anyone who visits would see how inadequate it is for the current needs, as well as future needs.

Be reminded that if the city and community wishes for Marco to be and remain a premier area, investment in actively used facilities for recreation, learning and community engagement are not just convenient but necessary. Let's start to judge this program on it's merits, as opposed to just the few, most vocal, senior resident constituents wishes. The community is not just made of seniors, but children, parents and visitors, who typically walk away with a very favorable opinion of Mackle Park. I know, because I ask many of them. And remember that many of those demographics wouldn't be represented in a referendum. Now imagine how much more value and outlook there would be with some improvement and prudent expansion to the facility and grounds.

Bottom line, I advocate a fiscal responsible direction that is justified by the needs, and abilities of the city. That is what investment is about, and the return should be justified. I'm sure you would agree that is a fair, prudent and appropriate path of consideration when it comes to this project.

If there are other "pragmatic alternatives" that haven't yet been shared, I suggest you share them with us. I for one, am ready to make considerations based on the facts, objectives and abilities, just as we should expect from our local government. Surely there is a compromise somewhere.

Thank you for your comments. I know you are active in your communication on civic issues and it truly enhances the value of our conversations and reflects that we are a community who shares the same goals, but may sometimes disagree in how to reach those goals.

1Paradiselost writes:

Marco Defender says....

Mr. Uhler - I understand your letter, and agree that fiscal responsibility is critical, but don't presume to consider that all "The People" of Marco are opposed to this improvement in our park facilities.

What I say is bring this to "THE PEOPLE". Put this issue on the ballot and allow them to VOTE!

What is now being proposed, The city is going to be in competition with local business and have banquet facilities?

Correct me if i'm wrong.. The city wants taxpayers to pay for a new facility to put other taxpayers out of business?

THE PEOPLE of Marco Island are tired of politicians in this city shoving projects like the STRP down our throats without a VOTE!

We should also be allowed to vote on the new Smokehouse Bay bridge. $146,000 a foot bridge (80 ft @ 11.5 Million) is a bit much, when the SS Jolley bridge came in at $9,500 a foot (2,690 ft @ 25.5 Million.

Time to go back to the drawing board,

Time to let "THE PEOPLE VOTE"!

ajm3s writes:

in response to MarcoDefender:

Mr. Uhler - I understand your letter, and agree that fiscal responsibility is critical, but don't presume to consider that all "The People" of Marco are opposed to this improvement in our park facilities. Despite that poor decisions that have been made in the past to balloon the city debt service to an extreme amount, we shouldn't be so careless to just throw out the baby with the bath water. Any appropriate decision should be based on its merits, and if the business case and requirements of compliance are justified, then the direction and action will be appropriate. The research and validation of the information continues and I would have expected that you would approve of the due diligence, as the city staff works actively to ensure all the necessary data and information is fully vetted and shared with "the people". It would appear that just because you don't agree with the facts on the status of the site and center, you are negative about the direction. Please, I urge to you evaluate the facts here, which is surely you would have expected to have happened years ago when the purchase of the Utility was being considered.

As someone who utilizes the Mackle Park facilities frequently, anyone who visits would see how inadequate it is for the current needs, as well as future needs.

Be reminded that if the city and community wishes for Marco to be and remain a premier area, investment in actively used facilities for recreation, learning and community engagement are not just convenient but necessary. Let's start to judge this program on it's merits, as opposed to just the few, most vocal, senior resident constituents wishes. The community is not just made of seniors, but children, parents and visitors, who typically walk away with a very favorable opinion of Mackle Park. I know, because I ask many of them. And remember that many of those demographics wouldn't be represented in a referendum. Now imagine how much more value and outlook there would be with some improvement and prudent expansion to the facility and grounds.

Bottom line, I advocate a fiscal responsible direction that is justified by the needs, and abilities of the city. That is what investment is about, and the return should be justified. I'm sure you would agree that is a fair, prudent and appropriate path of consideration when it comes to this project.

If there are other "pragmatic alternatives" that haven't yet been shared, I suggest you share them with us. I for one, am ready to make considerations based on the facts, objectives and abilities, just as we should expect from our local government. Surely there is a compromise somewhere.

Thank you for your comments. I know you are active in your communication on civic issues and it truly enhances the value of our conversations and reflects that we are a community who shares the same goals, but may sometimes disagree in how to reach those goals.

If the basis for expansion of the Mackle Park Community Center is to accommodate all the interior activities both existing and planned, I simply have to ask: Why does a Community Center hosting an array of activities need to be located in an open air park with playing fields, walking paths, spray park, dog runs, lake etc. This is an expansion for interior activities but Mackle Park is primarily an open air park?

I understand the role of parks for recreational activities, but recreational activities now include culinary classes, card games, dancing classes, etc. Geeze I could do these things in a vacant commercial strip mall, with ample parking located on main roads in a commercial zone.

I bet it would be a lot less expensive proposal to bolster the city profit/loss projections!

We can discuss the "needs" of government provided activities, but a great commentary was recently submitted, and I just need to pass it on.....to rebut the a-la-carte activities now to be furnished by local governments within the confines of a new building.

http://www.marcoislandflorida.com/app...|newswell|text|Home|p

And please! Do we really need an interior running track and gymnasium when there are existing facilities that typically provide these items for children in schools or commercially operated gyms for adults?

And the weirdest part: the city is going to justify the interior expansion based on revenue projections and profit/loss evaluation. Sounds like a government operation pretending to be a commercial entity.

Hey! I have an idea, how about we house all these inside activities in the newly resurrected Midtown District revitalization plan and simply start in a vacant store front. How's that for government putting its money where its mouth is.

And guess what? There is park in the Midtown District, with an open field in the same area that you could walk to. Hey this would conform to the pedestrian friendly atmosphere the city is promoting for this area.

Never mind, they want a hotel near the park.

God Help Us All!

MarcoDefender writes:

AJM - Thanks for the reply, but let's be sure to stay focused. The question that remains is...is the proposed Mackle Park expansion justified? Bringing up off site vacant strip malls & city center locations is taking this off the path. The current park has space, there are obvious advantages in considerations for expanding on-site, so let's evaluate what's on the table based on the factual information.

I take issue with the referenced link on the single role of government, it's myopic and limited, which is far from "great". If we lower the bar on what our government should provide to it's citizens for our taxation contribution, we will surely be delivered a poor result. Don't fall prey to this limited perspective. Raise the bar, expect more, and recognize that a community and city will draw in residents and visitors based on what it offers beyond just "protection", so if we wish to keep this city and area in demand, retaining the value of our community, homes, residents, we need to expect more, not less.

Granted, I think there are aspects of the proposal that may not be justified, but that shouldn't mean the whole proposal and consideration should be axed. Let's consider this on its merits and evaluate what works, what doesn't and where the compromise resides.

Again, although I may not agree with all your inputs, I'm glad to see the engagement and discussion. Thank you.

ajm3s writes:

in response to MarcoDefender:

AJM - Thanks for the reply, but let's be sure to stay focused. The question that remains is...is the proposed Mackle Park expansion justified? Bringing up off site vacant strip malls & city center locations is taking this off the path. The current park has space, there are obvious advantages in considerations for expanding on-site, so let's evaluate what's on the table based on the factual information.

I take issue with the referenced link on the single role of government, it's myopic and limited, which is far from "great". If we lower the bar on what our government should provide to it's citizens for our taxation contribution, we will surely be delivered a poor result. Don't fall prey to this limited perspective. Raise the bar, expect more, and recognize that a community and city will draw in residents and visitors based on what it offers beyond just "protection", so if we wish to keep this city and area in demand, retaining the value of our community, homes, residents, we need to expect more, not less.

Granted, I think there are aspects of the proposal that may not be justified, but that shouldn't mean the whole proposal and consideration should be axed. Let's consider this on its merits and evaluate what works, what doesn't and where the compromise resides.

Again, although I may not agree with all your inputs, I'm glad to see the engagement and discussion. Thank you.

"Off path"?

Is Veterans Community Park "off path". Is expansion of interior recreational provisions "off path" if they are near Veterans Park. The city wishes to revitalize Midtown District which includes Veterans Community Park, that is planned to serve as a cultural center.

http://www.cityofmarcoisland.com/modu...

I do not believe I am lowering the bar, from my perspective I actually believe the Community Center would be better served in the area that is more central to the residents and visitors of this island. Read the city's proposals for the Midtown District.

Yet, some of the features include an indoor gymnasium that I would expect to be part of school infrastructure NOT a park.

To your point to "recognize that a community and city will draw in residents and visitors based on what it offers beyond just "protection", I shall provide testimony of what visitors are actually saying about Mackle Park. Bear in mind this is in conjunction with a recent article naming Marco Island as the 3rd best island in the US from 2013 TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice Islands Awards.

http://www.marcoislandflorida.com/app...|newswell|text|Home|s

Now the devil is in the details. Note that Mackle Park is "ranked #1 of the 20 attractions on Marco Island". Quite an impressive accolade which would bolster your argument to expand the facility and programs. But again, review the comments provided, and note what is the overwhelming impression they note or more specifically NOT note. The comments list mostly outdoor facilities but when indoor activities are noted, NOT one comment as to the limited size or lack of activities, and then there is the often capitalized FREE offering.

http://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction...

And I truly believe government is to serve for our protection on a host of levels which include environmental, safety and health and as well as protect the character of this community. And it is often repeated by city employees, and actually found in the Comprehensive Plan for Parks and Recreation "GOAL: TO ENHANCE MARCO ISLAND’S OPEN SPACE AND RECREATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES WHILE MAINTAINING ITS
TROPICAL SMALL, TOWN CHARACTER".

http://www.cityofmarcoisland.com/modu...

Does that mean we should increase the amount of air conditioned space for recreational activities? Including card games.......

Stop this madness, the complaints are staff induced and those that I consider credible relate primarily to storage issues.

But the by line is the residents and visitors are arriving in droves and they love it just as it is. And let us not forget, from their perspective its FREE!

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