A unanimous Monroe County School Board wants to deliver the most extensive — and most expensive at $5 million — sports complex to Marathon Middle/High School’s campus.
The consensus became clear at Tuesday’s board meeting in Marathon although the five elected leaders still must take a formal vote.
Three designs presented by Pat Lefere, executive director of operations and planning, would add 150 parking spaces to the school on Sombrero Beach Road. The most expensive option, at $5 million, would deliver a competition track and call for Marathon Manor to be demolished.
“It was the best one there,” board Chairman John Dick said of the plan, adding it’s time for the former Marathon Manor nursing home building to disappear. “There’s nothing we can do with that building.”
The plan uses the entire site and delivers a competition-level track, which Key West and Coral Shores High Schools already have. Sports fields would also be reconfigured, with the football field moving from behind the school to next to it.
The $5 million price is just a starting figure.
“Based on what we’ve been seeing..., I would be surprised if they’d come in that low once we come in for bid regardless of what plan you pick,” Lefere said.
The School Board 12 years ago paid more than $7 million for Marathon Manor with the possibility of building affordable housing on it. Since then, nothing has been done with the property.
Board members said anything less than the $5 million plan would be offering the school half measures.
“If we’re going to promote graduation rates, we need to do something for our athletes,” board member Mindy Conn said. “We have athletes who struggle in the classrooms and they have to want to be there.”
Conn said Marathon deserves the “full, beautiful track.”
Ron Martin said spending $3.5 million to $4 million on a “half job” makes no sense. “It’s just been sitting there, now all of a sudden we want to use it for the betterment of our kids,” Martin said.
Andy Griffiths wondered if the property has enough room for a community pool, which Marathon officials want, and suggested setting aside a water retention area for the city.
“You always want to be on both sides,” John Dick told him.
Lefere said the idea wouldn’t work and cautioned board members from using the preliminary designs as anything specific. “An engineer is not involved in it yet,” Lefere said.
Gwen Filosa: @KeyWestGwen