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When the debate at the Marco Island City Council turned to city projects for consideration for state matching funds, the proposal for a $7.5 million multi-use facility for Veterans Community Park was removed and council got behind City Manager Roger Hernstadt’s suggestion for $2.77 million for three projects:

$1 million for legislative funding for the replacement of Marco Island Fire/Rescue Station 51. The aging building is in poor condition and has been an integral part of improving response times to Old Marco, Hideaway Beach, the Town Center area as well as the North Collier Boulevard corridor. That station also houses the crew that responds to marine emergencies. The city would have to match the state funds with another $1 million to complete the project.

A $1.55 million request for a wastewater grant that would need a similar match from city utility department capital improvement project funds.

A $229,140 request for a storm-sewer grant that would be matched with a similar amount from local funds.

The city would be seeking a total of $2,779,140 to carry out these projects from state funding while matching a similar amount either from utility funds already in hand or local tax dollars from the budgeting process, staff said.

The Veterans Park building would have housed meeting space for civic organizations, a small museum for local veterans memorabilia, a deck for musical performances and the potential for closing in the open space on the ground level should the future needs require additional space.

A majority of council had originally given Hernstadt the green light to proceed with the Vets Park building earlier this year, but the idea ran afoul of residents when the issue of the loss of “greenspace” in the park sparked a vocal debate.

Veterans also were concerned they had not been part of that planning process and felt slighted for not being involved in the early conversations.

Council voted 6-0 in favor of the resolution with changes the manager suggested.

City council on Monday evening also dispatched a number of items, ranging from the election of a new chair and vice chair of the board to renaming of a bridge, but not before a little controversy at the outset of the meeting.

Councilman Larry Honig continued to find fault with both the City Manager and the City Attorney for particular procedural actions. The ensuing debate required a 10-minute recess, at which time the City Attorney ruled that the manager did have the authority to create a resolution for inclusion on a board agenda for debate and action by the council.

Council would then move on to elect council member Robert Brown as the new chairman. Brown defeated Honig by a 4-2 vote. Council members Larry Sacher, Brown, Kenneth Honecker and Amadeo Petricca voted in favor of Brown. Councilman Batte was absent.

The board went on to nominate council member Amadeo Petricca as the vice chairman. That vote was 6-0.

Council voted on Monday evening to honor longtime resident Herb Savage, renaming the Smokehouse Bay Bridge in his honor. When appropriate, a plaque will be placed, honoring Savage’s contribution to building today’s modern Marco Island.

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