Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Response to ‘Why the Mulligan’ re. Veterans Community Park

As Chairman of the Marco Island Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee, I feel compelled to respond to last week’s letter to the Editor “Why the Mulligan” and address public commentary surrounding our community’s need to refresh the Master Plan for Veterans Park. (

I was always a precocious child. Often my zeal to accomplish a goal invariably ended in less than ideal results. In my rush to complete an assignment I would abandon measured progress for the allure of reaching the finish line first. The product would be my mother and I at our kitchen table well past both of our bedtimes. In what can only be described as the innate wisdom of parenthood, my mother countered my approach with the same response: “It takes less time to do something right, than it does to do something wrong.” It took years before I realized that my haste to complete my work invariably resulted in a waste of time, money, and sacrifice down the line.

Once you knock the dust off the 2009 Master Plan for Veteran’s Community Park the hard work and dedication of the prior committee is apparent. Unfortunately, the housing collapse shelved those efforts for nearly 10 years. Now, as our city again charts the path towards what will likely be our most sizable (in area and cost) park project, the reverberation of my mother’s words thunder to mind. It will take less time to build this park with thought and deliberate consideration of Marco’s desires than it will to hastily soothe the “need for a finished park” and deal with the inevitable shortcomings as a result.

Should we proceed without considering the advancements and changes our home has undergone over the last decade? Do we ignore the experience we gained through our successes and failures over the last 10 years of use? Shall we rush toward the instant gratification of a completed park only to see the glory fade when a misaligned design becomes evident with time?

With our Island roaring back to prosperity, the time has come to move the Veterans Park project forward armed with the vision of those before us, the needs of those around us, and the future of those who come after us firmly in our sight.

As such, Council has prudently chosen a path to make sure every voice (including those not here in 2009) is heard and every vote is measured before we proceed towards Marco’s ultimate vision for Veterans Park.

Unfortunately, the misinformed have already begun circulating erroneous information, so allow me to set the record straight. The recently approved Scope of Services for Kimley Horn to update the Veterans Park Master plan does NOT stipulate what amenities to include in the updated park plan.

There are no preconceived notions, no hidden agendas, no secret handshakes; only a group of your neighbors determined to get this thing right- and with your help we will.

I urge you to renounce the negativity and cynicism that has poisoned the political well both locally and nationally. Instead, find your rose-colored glasses and honor the opportunity our veterans fought for. Have your voice heard and participate in this a grand endeavor, one which will shape the crown jewel of this island paradise for years to come.

As Chairman for our committee, my goal is to ensure that Veterans Park is a space that will serve our needs today and evolve with us as a community. Quite simply: Let us measure twice and cut once.

Dutifully yours,

Dr. Carlos Portu, MD
Chairman, City of Marco Island Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee

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