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Do we need to expand government facilities?

(This letter was sent to Marco council members and copied to the Sun Times.)

The purpose of this letter is to inform you that I am not in favor of the proposed building at Veterans' Park. When the people of Marco voted on a referendum to buy the property I believe most of us were envisioning a place to enjoy with various venues. For example, a band shell, a walking path on the water's edge and a performing arts, center. Many designs were bantered about and considered by P&R.

I understand the price tag on those desired plans is unaffordable at this time. What I don't understand is the rush to put something on that piece of green space. I believe if we are putting anything there it should be for the enjoyment of the people of Marco. Surely a service center that would house employees of the city (as mentioned at the Oct. 5 council meeting) and a small room that the veterans could use for meetings is not the answer.

Oh, did I forget the plan for restrooms? I truly believe that the veterans would be appalled to think their cause is being exploited to have a piece of concrete built for the city government. Why can't the city government do with what it has? Marco is a very small community. Does it really need to keep expanding its government facilities? How would this please the majority of taxpayers? To rush in to get money from a possible grant and yet be in debt for an additional five million would not be a fiscally responsible decision. This does not even take into account the cost for maintenance and daily overhead. Has the finance department put a price tag on that?

It is my understanding that the City Manager has produced a design plan that came from Marathon for a building. This we are told would save some money. Sorry, still not a good enough reason to buy something that your neighbors are not interested in. Let's keep it a green space with the veterans memorial site until that day when the city will be able to afford to make it a place for our enjoyment.

Linda Colombo

Marco Island

It’s your money, Marco Island

Marco Island, be prepared to pay at least $5 million for a govt. center in Veterans Park.And be forewarned that the majority of the councilors agreed there is more borrowing in our future. Councilor Ken Honecker said  “with interest rates at a low 2.5 percent, we can borrow $10 million to pay for this government project and use the extra for a few other projects.”

A bit of background: In June, 2015, Gov. Scott vetoed the $2.5 million request from Marco Island to build a multipurpose govt. building in Veterans Park.  At the time very few Marco Island residents were aware of this project. Senior state Sen. Garrett Richter and senior state Rep. Kathleen Passidomo sponsored this proposal in Tallahassee. Price tag for the entire project was $7.5 million, with Marco Island taxpayers paying $5 million.

Veterans were the “hook”  to get the money. Gov. Scott vetoed this and the residents of Marco Island  narrowly escaped the $5M “hook."

Fast forward to Sept. 11, 2015. A Special City Council meeting was called and approved the identical request for $2.5 million.  This was submitted to Passidomo, who will again be sponsoring this proposal. City Manager stated in his letter of submission, “We have received strong support for the project from Congressman Curt Clawson."

Included in both proposals was a rendering of a building and a set of required permit ready plans.  At the 9/11/2015 council meeting, councilors Larry Sacher and Honecker liked the proposal so much that they suggested that council chambers be moved to the new building. The new building will have a 200-seat council chamber which will double as a Performing Arts Center.  With this plan, the Fire Administration will get a new home at the current council chambers.  During the 10/05/2015 council meeting, it was brought to light that neither proposal had a set of permit-ready plans for which Marco Island had approval to use.

I did my part as a veteran and a resident and reached out to Passidomo with my objections. She suggested I wait it out till the end of the year and see how the discussions go.

Here is my problem with her suggestion: Without opposition now, this will become much closer to a done deal. The Collier County legislative delegation will meet on Thursday, Oct. 15, to hear the presentation from cities and interested parties who’ve submitted proposals, including ours. This is the first stage in the legislative process. Representatives will then decide which projects will go through the next stage; the third stage is drafting a language. Once the proposal advances to these stages, there will be less and less effective input from citizens of Marco Island.

It’s your money, Marco Island – speak up, call your elected representative and congressman and your elected city councilors and be heard.

Charles Lamb

Marco Island

Congratulations to Jane Watt

The board of directors, administration, staff and students of Marco Island Charter Middle School congratulates Marco Island Academy and Jane Watt for their successful purchase of the land which they have been leasing since the opening of their school. We also thank Bill and Karen Young who kindly lent the funds which made the purchase possible. Success of a public charter high school will benefit all the students and citizens of Marco Island in particular and Collier County in general.

We now anxiously await the district school board's final sale of Tract K to the Marco Eagle Sanctuary Foundation, which will use it as a passive park to preserve the environmental integrity of it as a bald eagle nesting sanctuary. The proceeds from this sale minus closing costs will be distributed in accordance with the settlement agreement and release which was entered between the Deltona Corp. and the School Board of Collier County and filed on Jan. 3, 1990. This agreement provided that "if Tract K is sold to a third party the proceeds of such sale shall be applied by the School Board for the benefit of the public school student populace of Marco Island and Marco Shores or both, in schools where they attend on Marco Island, Marco Shores or elsewhere in Collier County."

As a result of this sale, all Collier County Public Schools where Marco Island and Marco Shores resident children attend will get a prorated share of the proceeds, according to formula worked out between the parties to the contract. This is great news for those Collier County public schools where our children attend and it is indeed great news for Marco Island Charter Middle School and Marco Island Academy who will be sharing a substantial part of the proceeds from the sale.

Tarik N. Ayasun

President, board of directors

Marco Island Charter Middle School

Beauty of Marco people

The third annual Jerry Adams Chili Cookoff event at CJ's on the Bay this past weekend was such an enjoyable time!

The Marco Island Fire Rescue Foundation, individual participants, and the business sponsors who contributed to make the fundraiser possible deserve recognition for putting together a great event that brought out the community. We must of course give special thanks to the cooks who served a wonderful assortment of different styles of chili that all tasted great (I know from experience!). If you were unable to make it out this year then please make sure you add it to your calendar for next year, you won't regret it.

Marco Island is blessed with natural beauty and great weather that frequently ends up receiving a lot of the credit for why this is such a wonderful place to live. Truth be told it's the events like the Chili Cookoff, Christmas Island Style, and too many others to name that are the reason why many families and retirees have decided to make Marco Island their year-round home rather than just a destination to visit one or twice a year. These fundraisers and events, peppered throughout the year, provide us all with an opportunity to take note of the truly important things in life and how lucky we all are to be a part of this community together.

The true character and beauty of Marco Island is reflected in the people that inhabit it. It's something that we all should be proud of.

Jared Grifoni

Marco Island

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