The Marco Island City Council on March 18 moved one step closer making a reality the Veterans Community Park that residents envisioned nearly 20 years ago when they voted to spend $10 million of taxpayer money to acquire one of the last large pieces of open space near Town Center.
Residents and councilors listened as representatives from Kimley-Horn, the city’s consultant for designing the facilities and Dr. Carlos Portu, Chairman of the Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee reviewed the questions which council and members of the public had from the March 4 council meeting.
Portu noted that this would be the 50th meeting concerning this project. “The time is right to do the park. This isn’t one person’s plan; this isn’t one person’s perspective of what the park should be. This is a living document which would allow us to adopt changes if necessary,” said Portu.
“The Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee would ask that council consider doing the following at tonight’s meeting,” said Portu.
- Approve the plan before you leave this evening so we may proceed.
- Release the remaining $150,000 of capital that has been set aside to begin the process.
- Identify a funding mechanism to make the park a reality.
Council praised the plan brought back by Kimley-Horn and their responses to the questions raised at the last meeting.
Councilor Victor Rios questioned what plans would be in place to deal with storm water run-off, lighting pollution and parking, which Kimley-Horn promised to respond to.
Councilors discussed the potential for “sponsorships” for purchasing naming rights, in addition to looking at financing, bonding and the possible use of sales tax revenues from the 1% program just passed by Collier County taxpayers.
Phasing of the construction within the park was also discussed, as well as moving forward to do a turn key project, whose cost could rise considerably if the phasing is delayed. At the present time there is no money in the budget for the $8 million estimated project cost, except for approximately $150,000 that is left over from the planning budget.
Council would vote 7-0 to proceed as requested by the Parks Advisory Committee.
Council moved to approve the permanent waiver of the parking restrictions within the swales during the holiday season. In the past, the council would take the issue up annually. Because the ordinance was not self-enforcing, Councilor Howard Reed opposed it. The measure passed 6-1.
Plans to Replace Fire Station 50 Move Forward
Council approved a $350,000 contract for design services for the construction of a new Fire Station 50. The city had originally looked at rebuilding the existing structure, which would have required raising the elevation to meet the new FEMA flood standards.
The city has put in for state funding of $4 million, which has already passed the Florida House. Another $1.5 million may also be available for “hardening of the building.”
Council voted 7-0 to approve the contract.
Support For State Ban on Smoking on Beaches
Councilor Victor Rios brought forward a resolution to support state legislation which would have banned smoking on all Florida public beaches. Although Councilor Rios made the motion to support that state legislation it failed to receive a second and failed to be discussed.
Electronic Survey Tool May Be Available
The city is looking at the possible activation of an electronic survey tool to allow the citizens to weigh in on items by linking to the city’s website.
The survey tool is imbedded within the city’s present system but would require a minimal licensing for use of that package. Councilor Charlette Roman volunteered to work with city staff to review the potential. Councilor Rios opposed the idea but was afraid we would be overloading city staff. Councilor Howard Reed opposed having an opened ended comment section and the potential for abuse.
Councilor Larry Honig believed that the reasons not to do it were outweighed by the positive nature of the potential for the tool.
Councilor Roman will report back at a future meeting.
Capital Spending Ordinance
This would require a “super-majority” vote for a capital expenditure that exceeded a certain level. It exempted enterprise funds, emergencies, grant funds and discretionary taxes. Councilor Jared Grifoni advised councilors that legislation supporting this thought process was moving forward in Tallahassee for state legislation and spending.
“If we don’t have five votes for this type of spending, we shouldn’t approve it,” said Councilor Larry Honig who supported the legislation.
Councilor Reed was concerned that this legislation would handcuff future councils.
Council approved the motion to bring the issue back for a first reading and further discussion by a 5-2 vote, with Reed and Roman opposing.