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Community Center Exploring Alternative Options

Community Center Exploring Alternative Options

By Noelle H. Lowery - noelle@coastalbreezenews.com

Marco Island may be on the verge of closing the Mackle Park Community Center debate.

During a special workshop last week, the Marco Island City Council unanimously authorized city staff to explore the costs of two alternative construction methods to the current $4.8 million plan for a new Mackle Park Community Center. In addition to looking at the cost for a total, phased renovation of the current facility, city staff also will examine a turnkey, design-build modular concrete building concept.

Community Center room layout.

Community Center room layout.

Community Affairs Director Bryan Milk presented the new design concept to the city council and residents in the audience. It immediately grabbed everyone’s attention for two reasons. The modular concrete building design may cut the price tag for the new community center nearly in half, and it will shorten the project timeline from a year to about four months.

“Tilt-up (construction) is wonderful,” said Councilman Larry Magel. “It goes up very, very fast.”

Further, the project can be done in phases, allowing for less disruption of city staff and parks and recreation department programming. Phase one will include the first of two 8,000-square-foot modular buildings and cost about $1 million.  Staff will be able to continue to work and programs to operate while the first building is erected.

Milk has been in discussions with Royal Concrete Concepts LLC. The Jupiter, FL-based company specializes in designing, manufacturing and constructing precast wall, floor/roof systems and concrete modular building units, which are capable of withstanding a Category 5 hurricane and have a 100-year life cycle.  Royal Concrete Concepts will pay a visit to Mackle Park in the coming weeks.

While renovation remains on the table, Milk warned against it. “It will be expensive to renovate, but it can be done,” noted Milk. Building code requirements limit any renovation plan, though. The main roadblock is the 50 percent rule, which requires the entire building be brought up to the current building code standards if more than 50 percent of it is being renovated.

Currently, the city spends between $20,000 and $40,000 a year to repair the current facility. This year, $8,000 already has been spent on various repairs, while another $70,000 expenditure is necessary for a new HVAC system for the building.

Still, the city council understands it has the community support hurdle to clear before any Mackle Park project can make it to the finish line. “We have an opportunity to really get community input here,” explained Councilman Larry Sacher, who recommended using water utility bills to send out information about the new concept and using the city’s Web site to take a true straw poll of community on the issue.

“Give the community an opportunity for input, and then there will be no more excuses,” he added.

Councilman Ken Honecker agreed: “We need to make it clear to the community that now it is a very simple box to give the people what they want.”

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