Residents react to idea of replacing Mackle Park Center

It would cost a minimum of $440,276 to repair Mackle Park’s existing community center. To solve its problems will take $2.3 million. Residents told Marco Island’s Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee Tuesday the public is unclear why the city should spend the money.

Bryan Milk, the city’s community affairs director, gave a one-and-a-half hour presentation to the committee. He outlined the center’s history, usage, programs and physical deficiencies.

Committee members requested the presentation as part of their effort to sway public opinion on the need to replace the existing community center with a 16,000-square-foot alternative. The new community center would be placed on park property in two phases without interfering with current programs, Milk said. Approximately 15,000 people per year attend activities within the walls of the community center. Of those, 50 percent or more are adult programs.

Adults want amenities, Milk explained. They want indoor programs with climate control, sound systems, technology, projection screens, podiums, seats and a quiet environment. “That’s not available outdoors,” he said.

At most, one or two programs can take place at the same time in the existing building. Even scheduling quiet activities while noisier ones are being held within the community center is impossible, Milk said.

The new design would segregate adult and youth programs using two large meeting rooms and six smaller rooms. Milk presented a list of 40 classes and proposed programs seeking indoor space at Mackle Park. The list included courses requested by area colleges and universities willing to bring adult education classes onto the island but lacking the space to do so.

Dr. Gerald Swiacki of the committee asked why other meeting rooms in the city were not hosting the programs.

See CENTER, 6A

CENTER from 4A

“Everybody is fighting over meeting space,” said committee member Litha Berger. Many of the larger rooms, such as parish halls and Rose History Auditorium at the Marco Island Historical Museum, charge a greater amount than Mackle Park, Milk said.

Mackle Park stays open for evening programs. Bank and library meeting rooms have restricted hours and no evening meeting times, said committee member Dolores Siegel.

Mackle Park is open seven days a week with evening hours until 9 p.m. Mondays through Fridays. After the presentation, the public was allowed to comment. “People are very wary about this,” said Herb Jermanok. “Taxpayers like myself are faced with a long list of expenses that are coming down like the Smokehouse Bridge.”

To make matter worse, Jermanok said, the public has been bombarded with different “must have” descriptions for the new Mackle Park center with varying costs. A 40,000-square-foot building with a 13,500-square-foot enclosed gymnasium costing $6 million was originally proposed to City Council.

Ray Seward told the committee he toured the community building. He saw the lack of insulation as a serious problem. “The city needs a formal maintenance program and needs to budget for continual upgrades. This building is not old, but there’s no question of the need for more space at Mackle Park,” he said.

Seward asked if park participants were Marco Island residents. About 17 percent of users are non-residents, Milk responded. “The facility is obviously on its last legs, and we need to do something. We also have a serious debt problem,” said Marco Island City Councilor Bob Brown. He reminded the committee that the public was expecting a referendum on the new center and having one could not be overlooked.

Jermanok followed his comments saying resident will vote for a new community center only if they believe there is an absolute need, if the current building is falling apart, and if they see that it will add to their quality of life.

The committee will hold a workshop at 3:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 3, in the city’s community room to condense Milk’s document to a 10-minute presentation for the public.

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Comments » 12

RayPray writes:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

johnnycakes writes:

No thanks. Not with my tax dollars. There aren't enough of them to go round and I don't want to send you any more!

1Paradiselost writes:

"We also have a serious debt problem,” said Marco Island City Councilor Bob Brown.

He reminded the committee "that the public was expecting a referendum on the new center and having one could not be overlooked".

Thank you!

DEMOCRACY = REFERENDUM!

Konfuzius writes:

in response to RayPray:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Agree!

marco97 writes:

The City did not have a referendum on the STRP so I doubt they would have one for something that cost a couple of million. If they did would need one every week.

Konfuzius writes:

in response to marco97:

The City did not have a referendum on the STRP so I doubt they would have one for something that cost a couple of million. If they did would need one every week.

Maybe City Council learned that ignorance is bad politic!

gladesgator writes:

Cheapskates, pennies a day in taxes. You pay more than that for someone to mow your grass a week. Go look at your homeowner's and flood insurance bills. Why aren't you raising #&!! over an amount that matters than trying to deprive the Island Residents of an important improvement.

ajm3s writes:

in response to gladesgator:

Cheapskates, pennies a day in taxes. You pay more than that for someone to mow your grass a week. Go look at your homeowner's and flood insurance bills. Why aren't you raising #&!! over an amount that matters than trying to deprive the Island Residents of an important improvement.

"Why aren't you raising #&!! over an amount that matters than trying to deprive the Island Residents of an important improvement."

The same reason the Park and Recreation Foundation and those who truly wish to EXPAND programs and operations cannot muster much from its OWN patrons to donate money that would be equivalent to the cost of an annual YMCA fee.

Instead as you recommend, all the residents of Marco Island should pay based on property valuations even if they do not participate in Mah Jong, karate or the multitude of EXPANDING programs that cater to a wide range of age groups.

I would have thought given the breadth of expanded program offerings the P&R Foundation would grow in donations and as well as citizen support.

I guess it is a battle of user fees vs taxes or something in between. I hope a referendum will sort this out and the P&R will have ample time to provide a marketing effort to make its case given the reduced cost.

Bear in mind, it took a citizen, now Chairman of city council to offer the current plan that in my humble opinion should have been brought forth by city management....I thought that is what our taxes support....effective city management.

But that is NOT what the city initially brought forth because it knows the marketing power of "pennies a day". It was the same ploy when they promoted the $6.5MM plan with air conditioned gymnasium. The new proposal is just a few less "pennies per day".

Regardless of the marketing tactics, sometimes there are citizens that simply do not believe it is fair to support expanded programs that cater to a wide range of narrowly focused recreational groups on an ongoing basis. But I am sure those that oppose will be tarred and feathered as malcontents, misinformed and now cheapskates....when in the end they simply do not believe government should pay or support every iteration of recreational activities that can be provided under other venues for "pennies a day".

We all know a recommendation of parking meters at Mackle Park would be defeated before one could complete this sentence? However, it would be just "pennies a day" and it would go hand in hand with the city promotion of a pedestrian and bike friendly island.

MrBreeze writes:

ajm3s Now it is your turn to go to the head of the class.Right on.

OutWithTheOldies writes:

AJM3- While your thoughts are very well composed and you put forward some good points, I also think that your position is fundamentally flawed.

#1 On what basis do you think it is an absolute necessity for all government sponsored civic programs to be self funded? Community programming serves a valuable function in society and our community despite that its impact cannot always be tabulated on an excel spreadsheet somewhere. It is quite obvious that the community center does not do anything for YOU, but your assumption that it doesn't serve a lot of people is wrong. Sadly, a good portion of them are folks who can't speak up and say it (kids). I suppose that in your world, all National Parks, Schools, Roads, Beaches, and other amenities should charge enough money to not only pay back the money used to create them but also generate enough revenue to be self-sustaining! I think its scary to think about what our country would look like if we had this expectation of everything we did.

#2- Out of our government departments, I would say that P&R has an admirable history of producing income that can be returned to operations. Annual Revenue that comes from the Farmer's Market, Community Center Programs and other enterprises makes a pretty big dent in the annual tab that it takes to cover these great amenities we all enjoy. Adding more space to the Community Center, while obviously not a profitable endeavor (nor should it be) should also bring in more revenue to help defray future operating costs of the new building.
#3- Your comment that you "simply do not believe government should pay or support every iteration of recreational activities that can be provided under other venues for "pennies a day" is sadly misguided. I would argue that it is one of the very purposes of government to help provide opportunity to a wide range of recreational groups. Its is this very diversity that makes our country the incredible place it is. It is our place as a democracy to make sure that these small groups have the same opportunity to meet, collaborate, and enjoy the same way the larger groups do with the benefit of many more resources. Majority rules, minority rights- correct?

I hope that public sentiment continues to shift in this hot button topic. If you're on the fence, take the time and go take a guided tour of the place yourself. I think you will be surprised at what many people here call 'adequate' facilities.

ajm3s writes:

in response to OutWithTheOldies:

AJM3- While your thoughts are very well composed and you put forward some good points, I also think that your position is fundamentally flawed.

#1 On what basis do you think it is an absolute necessity for all government sponsored civic programs to be self funded? Community programming serves a valuable function in society and our community despite that its impact cannot always be tabulated on an excel spreadsheet somewhere. It is quite obvious that the community center does not do anything for YOU, but your assumption that it doesn't serve a lot of people is wrong. Sadly, a good portion of them are folks who can't speak up and say it (kids). I suppose that in your world, all National Parks, Schools, Roads, Beaches, and other amenities should charge enough money to not only pay back the money used to create them but also generate enough revenue to be self-sustaining! I think its scary to think about what our country would look like if we had this expectation of everything we did.

#2- Out of our government departments, I would say that P&R has an admirable history of producing income that can be returned to operations. Annual Revenue that comes from the Farmer's Market, Community Center Programs and other enterprises makes a pretty big dent in the annual tab that it takes to cover these great amenities we all enjoy. Adding more space to the Community Center, while obviously not a profitable endeavor (nor should it be) should also bring in more revenue to help defray future operating costs of the new building.
#3- Your comment that you "simply do not believe government should pay or support every iteration of recreational activities that can be provided under other venues for "pennies a day" is sadly misguided. I would argue that it is one of the very purposes of government to help provide opportunity to a wide range of recreational groups. Its is this very diversity that makes our country the incredible place it is. It is our place as a democracy to make sure that these small groups have the same opportunity to meet, collaborate, and enjoy the same way the larger groups do with the benefit of many more resources. Majority rules, minority rights- correct?

I hope that public sentiment continues to shift in this hot button topic. If you're on the fence, take the time and go take a guided tour of the place yourself. I think you will be surprised at what many people here call 'adequate' facilities.

WoW! Based on your rebuttal, I must have said more than I thought, especially given your opening salvo:

"On what basis do you think it is an absolute necessity for all government sponsored civic programs to be self funded?"

Absolute necessity? All government self funded?

I will let my comments stand as posted, no need to confuse readers with the difference with government funding of roads, bridges etc to providing recreational space for an EXPANSION of indoor recreational activity.

Given your position, the original gymnasium would be just fine for community support.

Remember, its just "pennies a day", so you should be able to muster support, whereas I will be relegated to the ash heap of those who support "common" use of public facilities.

During this time of Thanksgiving, it is apropos to recall the lesson of the Pilgrims in limiting the use of common land, especially when it came to tilling the soil.

islandguy2 writes:

Im a full time resident down here, with young kids. We need it to be remodeled. Not just me, as my family, but as for this island as one. Its seriously out-dated, and is used for MANY events for the kids on this island. This is an opinion from someone who lives here year round. The snow birds with an opinion should just go away, as theirs are null and void. Worried about their tax dollars going towards other things. Why is it, every year you guys come down here and think this island is yours? It doesnt work that way, respect the locals.

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