The Boca Grande Community Center is known as "Where Boca Grande Comes Together."
On Wednesday afternoon, Jan. 14, the community came together to celebrate the completion of renovation and restoration projects at the community center and the Louise duPont Crowninshield House. It was also the community and community organizations that came together to see the almost six-year project through to its completion.
"Both of these facilities have a rich and glorious history," said Master of Ceremonies and Lee County Commissioner Bob Janes. "This project has been a real team effort."
Mariela Camara of the Friends of Boca Grande Community Center with Bill Morton and Trisha Lowe at the reception in the Woman’s Club Room following the Ribbon Cutting Ceremony for the Boca Grande Community Center and Louise duPont Crowninshield Community House Renovation Projects.
Janes thanked everyone "for truly working together to renovate these projects for the Boca Grande community."
On hand for the ceremony were several local and county commissioners.
Ray Judah, chairman of the county commissioners, called the project "an absolute gift" and commended the community for preserving the historical structures.
"It's nice to come to a ribbon cutting where so many of the people of the community are involved," commented Tammy Hall, vice-chairman of the board of commissioners. "Boca Grande is a gem in our county. Lee County is blessed to have the diversity we have."
"It's been a long time coming," said Barbara Manzo, deputy director of the Lee County Department of Parks and Recreation. She thanked the community and all the organizations that donated over the years to all the renovation projects. "Your passion for this place is as great as ours."
Special appreciation was expressed to librarian Toni Vanover by Sheldon Kaye, director of the Lee County Library System. "This community could hardly have a more passionate advocate of the library," he said.
Jean Meanwell, president of the Friends of Boca Grande Community Center, also thanked everyone involved with the project. "A lot of things that got done got done because of the teamwork involved," she said. "Thank you to all the users of the community center for your patience -- and for paying your taxes."
"Having this beautiful facility has given us all renewed energy," said Woman's Club President Diane Mayer. "We look forward to using it for many years to come."
Lee Wesselman, GICIA president, commented, "This great community center has always represented the great relationship between the citizens of Boca Grande and Lee County... The Gasparilla Island Conservation and Improvement Association has always been proud to call this facility our home."
"The board would never have been able to do what's been done without the Lee County Commissioners," said Mary O'Bannon, a board member of the Louise duPont Crowninshield Community House.
The ceremony dedicated the most recent renovation project at the community center. Discussions began in 2002 on the project which was primarily funded by the Lee County Board of County Commissioners with significant contributions from Friends of Boca Grande Community Center, Boca Grande Woman's Club and the Gasparilla Island Conservation and Improvement Association. The total cost of the community center renovations was $892,000.
Main changes to the community center, according to the program, are:
Woman's Club Room - new cabinets, flooring, ceiling tiles, video screen, projector, appliances and range hood.
Restrooms - all new tile, lighting fixtures, Americans with Disabilities Act compliant and air conditioned.
Fitness Center - moved from old room (350 square feet) to new location (669 square feet) with fitness flooring, mirrors, ceiling fans, sound system, and new fitness equipment.
Special Interest Room (old fitness center) - to be used as a green room for Royal Palm Players and a program/meeting room for small groups.
Parks & Recreation office - new flooring, lighting and window treatments.
Friends Office - a new office was created for staff.
Reference Room - an additional 400 square feet was added to the existing room and a collection of library items.
Other improvements - resurfacing of the hallway concrete, WiFi access, new air conditioning units for each room, exterior and interior paint, and replacing two rock walkways with concrete.
Renovations at the Louise duPont Crowninshield Community House, which were not quite completed by the day of the ribbon cutting ceremony, were primarily to bring the historic building into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. The project included accessible restrooms, concrete ramps at both the east and north entrances and some modifications in the kitchen area.
Entertainment for the celebration included classical music in the Woman's Club Room, Reference Room and GICIA offices by Julie Cornwall, cello; Rachel Cox, viola; and Gabrielle Robinson, violin.
Refreshments were courtesy of Friends of Boca Grande Community Center, Boca Grande Woman's Club and Louise duPont Crowninshield Community Houses, Inc. with catering by The Thai Kitchen sponsored by Randy Wojcik of Gasparilla Properties, The Hinckley Co.-Hinckley Yachts of Naples and Steve and Thum Meylan.