For both young and old alike, the long awaited opening of the new Mackle Park Recreation Center has been a long time coming. After years of discussions, delays and a referendum approving the expenditure of $3.5 million for the construction of a turn-key facility to replace the 30 year old structure, the end may finally be in sight.
The new center was part of a 2004 Parks and Recreation Master Plan for Marco Island, which was done with input from throughout the community and finally approved by the City Council in 2005.
The new building, which includes covered exterior areas and interior function rooms, will have state-of-the-art video surveillance and audio visual capabilities, according to Samantha Malloy, Manager of Parks, Culture and Recreation for the city. “This is a big step up for the community. We believe everyone will be very pleased when we finally open the building,” said Malloy.
The Parks and Recreation staff have been in a holding pattern since the end of summer when their lease at the Family Church on Winterberry ran out. “Our staff have kept busy by preparing for the move and organizing all of the programs which will launch as soon as we take possession of the building,” said Lola Dial, Recreation Manager for the Parks Department.
This weekend will be especially busy for her staff as they prepare for Friday’s annual Halloween Spooktacular from 4 to 6 PM at Mackle Park, where several thousand youngsters and parents are expected. This, along with many of the other weekly sporting events held at Mackle Park are all front and center on their agendas as they anxiously await the availability of the building.
Some of the interior furnishings have been placed in storage pods awaiting their placement in the new building, while new tables, chairs and desks will be purchased as part of the approved funding for the building.
Due to some escalating costs during the time the building was approved and the actual contracts being signed has resulted in a slight downsizing of the facility, but all in all it has maintained its original footprint.
Some of the construction delays over the last year were due to some abnormal rain events earlier this year, along with a significant event in September called Hurricane Irma. “The building performed quite well during the storm,” said Mike Daniels, Construction Superintendent for the city.
The city is presently involved in working out final punch list details with the contractor, said Daniels, and they hope to take possession of the building by mid- November.