Marco Island got its Christmas present early: on Thursday afternoon, city councilors and staffers, members of the city’s Parks & Recreation Advisory Committee (PRAC), activity providers, and members of the public gathered in front of the brand-new Mackle Park Community Center and ceremonially declared it open.
The facility has actually been operating and hosting programs since Dec. 1, but on Thursday, City Council Chair Jared Grifoni cut a ribbon and made it official. The council actually had a quorum on hand, even a supermajority, with Vice-Chair Charlette Roman and councilors Bob Brown, Victor Rios and Larry Honig in attendance, along with City Manager Lee Niblock.
PRAC Vice-Chair Michael Levine spoke of the years of hard work that went into the center, which included several iterations of plans in the $9-20 million range before voters and City Council approved the current $3.5 million building in 2014.
“There was a lot of political wrangling," Grifoni said, "but now everyone can use the new facility regardless of who they are, and we can all enjoy it for a generation."
PRAC member Ron Rutledge joked that the best thing about the new center is "it’s already hurricane-tested.”
After the ribbon cutting, people streamed into the center for tours of the facility, and to hear about some of the programs that will be offered. Ever since the old building was demolished in September 2016, the activities and classes that typically would have taken place in the community center were instead held at the Family Church, and the staff was delighted to be in their permanent home.
“Our calendar is full,” said Samantha Malloy, manager of parks, culture and recreation for the city. “With all of our programs and people renting out the space for their things, we’re up and running at full speed.”
All of the city’s offerings, both at Mackle Park and elsewhere, are listed in a colorful brochure available at the park, and also on the city’s website. At Thursday’s open house, residents could learn about “Meditation & Mindfulness” from psychotherapist Christine Sanderbeck, cooking classes featuring a tour of Italian cuisine with Antonella Scaparra and dealing with “Stress in Paradise” from Dr. Rich Blanna.
Dance instructor Marianne Lorusso offered seemingly enough different classes to fill up the schedule all on her own, with classes in tap, jazz, lyrical, tumbling and ballet for beginners and intermediate dancers as young as three years old.
The various rooms in the center are each named after a different animal. The Wild Boars room, also known as the game room, contains three table tennis tables, two pool and two fussball tables. A separate billiards room for those 18 years and older, the Gators Room, has another pool table. The Tortoise Room caters to card groups and Bald Eagle 1 & 2, the large open activity area, has dividers to separate it into two distinct spaces, Martha Montgomery, supervisor of parks facilities, said. There's also a room that serves as a teen center.
The whole project came in under budget, said city Finance Director Gil Polanco, and on schedule when you factor in Hurricane Irma. Outdoor facilities at Frank E. Mackle Community Park, to give it its formal name, have continued throughout the construction period, including athletic fields, water spray park, volleyball court, shuffleboard and bocce courts, Kids’ Cove playground, and the air-nasium.
If You Go
Frank E. Mackle Community Park
1361 Andalusia Terrace, Marco Island
(239) 642-0575 or cityofmarcoisland.com