Veterans Community Park Nears Completion | Community
Nineteen years ago, Marco Island voters approved the purchase of what was called the Glonn property for $10 million. The 2003 acquisition was part of an election referendum that included language exempting the project from the “spending cap” and allowing its approval under the Marco Island city charter.
Later, in 2005, the Marco Island City Council voted to name the property “Veterans Community Park”, giving the park its own naming identity, but without a clear vision of what it would actually be.
In 2008, the community recognized the value of purchasing the Veterans Community Park when the volunteer committee managing Christmas Island Style approached the town with the idea of moving the annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony in the park. Since then, other events such as concerts, the Rotary Seafood Festival and the Farmers Market have found their way to Veterans Community Park.
Also in 2008, the Marco Island City Council voted to create the first master plan for the Veterans Community Park, despite the property having been purchased five years earlier, in 2003. A citizens’ committee was appointed to work with Sarasota-based architects Kimley-Horn and their representative James Pankonin to develop the vision for the park.
In 2009, the city council adopted the plan as a guideline for the layout of the eventual construction of the park. Most of the plans were put on hold due to the downturn in the economy, which started in 2008.
Over the next several years, the Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee continued to review options for the park. In the meantime, the local VFW led a fundraising campaign which resulted in the construction of the first veterans’ memorial. The memorial was dedicated on 11-11-11 as part of the Veterans Day celebration. A second fundraising effort was made to provide the Freedom Fountain, which was eventually added to the park’s veterans’ memorial.
In 2017, a new city council chose to update the original veterans community park master plan, believing that major changes might be needed. In the end, the basic layout remained the same, confirming the original vision of the Master Plan of 2009, and after 18 months of study with a large sample of citizens.
In 2019, the board again heard from Kimley-Horn representative James Pankonin regarding the updated vision for the park.
After lengthy discussions, council approved the progress of the project and accepted City Manager Michael McNees’ proposal to proceed through a Construction Manager At Risk (CMAR) style contract.
Kimley-Horn was awarded a $594,959 contract to create working design plans for the city-selected CMAR for the construction process. CMAR and the design firm (Kimley-Horn) would work together to come up with a “not to exceed” quote to present to the city for construction. In the event that the cost of the contract work exceeds the estimate of the CMAR, the company must absorb these costs.
Over the next 12 months, the process continued, with Manhattan Construction being selected as the construction manager at risk. The cost of Manhattan Construction’s contract to serve as CMAR was $11,183,647. An additional $713,700 was paid for work done on the second master plan, as well as Kimley-Horn’s work to create the construction documents. The 2008 master plan documents cost the city an additional $100,000 when they were created. This will represent a cost of just under $12 million for the park. Final figures will be calculated at the end of the project.
On August 18, 2021, there were smiles all around when the ceremonial dirt shovels were turned over, signifying the start of the long-awaited year-long construction project. The project will improve parking, drainage, lighting, new sanitary facilities, shade trees, improved electrical services and the highly controversial strip shell.
Over the next 30 days, work at the Veterans Community Park will continue while the contractor and city staff finalize the remaining tasks. The community will be able to enjoy the 2022 Veterans Day ceremonies, which are scheduled to be held in the newly renovated park.
“This is a great addition to our community. We owe our citizens such a great vote of thanks for having the vision in 2003 to purchase this magnificent property and invest in completing that vision in its development,” Marco Island City Council Speaker Erik Brechnitz said during his last tour of the facility this week.