PRAC pushes for development of Veterans Community Park


The Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee met Tuesday afternoon and discussed updating the 2009 Veterans Community Park master plan.

The committee first discussed revising the master plan at its Oct. 18 meeting, at which committee member Litha Berger said she contacted Kimley-Horn and Associates – the design consulting firm that helped devise the 2009 master plan – about updating it.

Kimley-Horn gave Berger a proposal for the scope of work it would provide as part of the update, including: client and stakeholder meetings; a preparation of a draft master plan document; a 3D digital model of improvements; and recommendation of next steps.

The estimated cost of the update is $40,000, which committee members agreed was a great deal, and they ultimately voted to recommend that City Council spend up to $40,000 to hire a design consulting firm to update the Veterans Community Park master plan.

Since then, however, the park has been a key component of ongoing battle between the community and Small Brothers, LLC, the developer that wants to use the park's intensity credits to build a hotel. Originally, Small Brothers planned on developing the park in exchange for the credits, but – after a significant amount of negative feedback from residents – they’ve agreed to pay the city $1 million for the credits instead.

So now it’s up to the city to develop the park, and PRAC chair Jerry Swiacki said the committee should move forward with the master plan update.

“This is important to the community and I think that we should address it,” he said.

“Particularly after Saturday night,”  Berger added, referring to the Island Rocks concert that drew an estimated 1,000 people to the park. “I just kept sitting there thinking, ‘We need that band shell.’ And going out I almost fell because there’s no lighting going to the parking lot. We’ve got to get this done. The community is begging for it.”

Alex Galiana, recreation supervisor, said he’s given the city manager scopes of work from other Florida communities that have done similar projects, and expects the issue to appear on a City Council agenda in the near future.

In other business

Galiana also provided the committee members with an update of the new Mackle Park Community Center.

“Everything is moving right along,” he said. “We’ve got our walls … almost to the 14 ft. level. The expectation is to be done with the walls in the next week to 10 days.”

He also said they should have supplies for the roof sometime next month and the expected final completion date is late August 2017, which is right on schedule.

The committee members also discussed the Calusa Park/Winterberry Drive shared use path project. Committee member Carlos Portu recommended adding lighting and reducing the amount of mulch.

“Fifty percent of the surface area is going to be mulch, and anybody that has a house on Marco Island knows what mulch [looks] like after any period of time,” he said. “It looks pretty terrible unless you’re going to be mulching it every three or four months. This is going to be very difficult to maintain both from a labor and cost perspective.”

The committee decided to write a letter to the City Council sharing its concerns and recommendations for the shared use path.

PRAC’s next meeting is 3 p.m. Feb. 21 in the community room, 51 Bald Eagle Drive.

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