City Council may soon approve non-profit to help fund Marco parks

Marco Island City Council approved in March 2019 the update for the Veterans' Community Park master plan.

Marco Island City Council may approve the incorporation of a non-profit to help fund city-owned parks during its first meeting in 2020.

The Marco Island Community Parks Foundation will offer people the opportunity to make tax-free donations for the renovation of Veterans' Community Park, said Erik Brechnitz, chairperson of the City Council.

"It allows the Parks and Rec committee to go out and solicit large donations," said Brechnitz during a City Council meeting on Dec. 2. "We have no other way to collect those donations."

From September:Marco Island looking to sell naming rights to help fund Veterans Community Park

From August:Marco Island City Council approves scope of services for Veterans' Park consultant

Brechnitz said it will also allow donors to make tax-free gifts from an IRA.

It has not been decided yet who will be the foundation's board members, said Carlos Portu, chairperson of the Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee. 

"I spoke with the chairperson of City Council today and he had a specific feedback for me on that but ultimately once we get it done then we'll worry about what that board is going to look like," Portu said during a committee meeting on Dec. 17.

Carlos Portu, chairperson of Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee, said it has not been decided yet who will be the board members of the Marco Island Community Parks Foundation. In the picture, Portu speaks during a committee meeting on Dec. 17, 2019.

The non-profit will be responsible for raising funds for city parks maintenance, capital improvements and technological and safety enhancements, according to the proposed articles of incorporation.

City Council approved an updated Veterans' Community Park master plan in March but those proposed improvements come with an estimated price tag in the millions of dollars.

In August, City Council approved the scope of services for a consultant to provide design, permitting, management and construction solutions for approximately $595,000.

Proceeds from the countywide one percent sales tax surcharge will help lessen the burden, but city officials believe selling naming rights could aid in the process, the Eagle reported in September.

Jared Grifoni, vice-chair of the City Council, suggested then that individual or corporate sponsor dollars could either offset taxpayer contributions or purchase additional improvements.

"I know there are a lot of generous people in this community that want to do it because they want to support Marco Island (and) they want to support Veterans' Community Park," Grifoni said at the time.

"Then, there's other people that have a reason to want to put their name on something like they do in Naples and other communities across the state of Florida and the country."

The first City Council meeting in 2020 is scheduled on Jan. 6.

Additional reporting by Devan Patel.