Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Council Approves Moving Ahead with Veterans Community Park

It was in 2008 when the Marco Island City Council first voted to create a Master Plan for Veterans Community Park, having purchased the property in 1999. In 2009, that plan was adopted by the then- city council as a guideline for what could become the layout for an eventual build-out of the park. Most of those plans were put on hold due to the downturn in the economy, which began in 2008.

Over the next several years, the Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee would continue to look at options. In the meantime, the local VFW spearheaded a fund-drive which would result in the building of the original Veterans Memorial. That memorial was dedicated on 11-11-11 as part of the Veterans Day Observance. A secondary fundraising effort provided the funds for the Freedom Fountain, which was later added to the park.

A new city council in 2017 chose to update the 2008 Master Plan, which was completed in 2018. In 2019, council once again heard from Kimley-Horn representative James Pankonin regarding the updated vision for Veterans Community Park.

At the Marco Island City Council meeting on Monday, August 19, the dedication and work contributed by a number of volunteers and committee members saw life breathed into the dream that has been 20 years in the making.

City council voted 6-0 to award a contract for $595,000 to create a set of plans which will lead to a Request of Proposals to construct the long-awaited improvements to the park. Kimley Horn was awarded that contract after being chosen by the city to take the project to the next phase, based upon their company’s experience in this type of work.

Kimley-Horn’s James Pankonin was in the audience that evening to answer any questions. Pankonin has been intimately involved since the first conceptual drawings were done in 2008/2009. He also worked closely with the VFW and other veterans to design the original Veterans Memorial. His company would also be chosen to update the original conceptual plan, which was adopted by council earlier this year.

Pankonin’s firm will bring forth a working set of design plans to be put out for quotation to a firm that will be chosen by the city as part of a Construction Manager at Risk (CMR) contract to have the project built. In this process, the CMR will work with the design firm (Kimley-Horn) to propose a “not-to exceed” quotation back to the city for the actual construction work. Should the contracted work go above the quotation from the successful CMR firm, the firm would have to absorb those costs.

City Manager Michael McNees advised council that he would be looking at adding a dedicated city representative to provide direct city oversight to the project creating another layer of protection for the city’s interest, and that he would be reporting back to council as to those details.

A small contingent of present and past members of the Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee gathered together outside council chambers following the vote to move the project forward. They exchanged hugs and congratulatory handshakes regarding the successful vote which will now see the project move forward.

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