Janey Symington attended the public debut of the renovated Captiva Civic Association Building at CCA's Spring Social and General Membership meeting on April 2.
"It's quite spectacularly and marvelously a wonderful and wonderfully open building," said Symington.
Her reaction was echoed by others who mingled outside under the building's new veranda and landscaped patio courtyard. The veranda opened into the building's expanded meeting room where another group of CCA members and curious islanders munched on hors d'oeuvres and perused an exhibit of contemporary art hanging on the walls.
The newly renovated, expanded and re-roofed building, complete with the new veranda, courtyard and landscaping. PHOTO PROVIDED.
This new meeting room, featuring state-of-the art audio, video and lighting, is about twice the size of the former community hall built in 1961.
"We can now have bigger concerts and more shows of all kinds here on Captiva," said Symington. "I'm quite thrilled with it. It's simply beautiful -- worth every bit of the effort."
Those who toured the facilities also saw an enlarged and updated kitchen that generated lots of raves, as well as the impressive new Captiva History Museum and an additional area for parents to read to children in the expanded Captiva Library.
The Captiva Island Historical Society's museum gives the illusion of being on the historical mail boat, the Santiva. Visitors who come aboard are treated to video, photos, and the sounds and sights of Captiva in a bygone era.
"It's so nice to have the historical part of this new museum connected to the CCA building and to the library," Symington added.
The CCA Building renovation project began years ago with the need to replace the roof and make a minor addition to the building.
"But these relatively minor changes have a way of growing and turning into much bigger projects," said Henry Kaiser, who was actively involved in the project's planning. "We wound up raising the ceiling of the meeting hall, expanding the walls out further, creating new library space and adding the historical museum."
By the time the project was completed, the CCA had added nearly 1,200 square feet to its 7,400 square-foot CCA building at 11550 Chapin Lane. This facility was originally constructed in 1961 and expanded several times over the years, including the addition of a wing for the Captiva branch of the Lee County Library in 1970.
Also included in the overall project was the addition of an emergency generator to permit the building to be used by emergency workers in the aftermath of a major storm, and re-roofing of an adjacent residence provided for the local Sheriff's deputy and his family.
The building's debut and CCA Spring Social also doubled as the organization's first General Meeting in its renovated facility.
CCA President Rich Stegmann told the members that the project, originally estimated to cost about $800,000, had gone considerably over budget as workers discovered numerous structural problems with the facility as they tore away layers of its interior and exterior. He said about $880,000 has been raised to date, but warned that considerably more money needs to be raised to pay for a project that is expected to exceed $1.2 million.
Stegmann praised CCA Executive Director Paul Garvey for his oversight of the project, and CCA Board Member Sally Rheinfrank for her fundraising efforts.
All of the funds for the renovation have come from member donations. No public tax money has been used even though the Captiva Community Center complex includes a public library and deputy residence.
Donors received a sneak preview of the building at a social event and art show a week earlier.
At the CCA's General Meeting, the membership re-elected four of its nine board members to a second two-year term. Members who were named to new terms were Cindy Sargent, Phill Urion, Sally Rheinfrank, and Madelaine Rohn.
The CCA was founded in 1936 at the old Fisherman's Lodge to foster road repair, a construction of a city dock, vegetation control, and general improvement of the island. It met at various homes and public places until 1949 when it took over the old schoolhouse, which is now the Captiva Chapel by the Sea. A decade later, it moved into an adjacent part of the one-engine fire house built on the existing site of the CCA.
"I couldn't be more happy with the new building," said Peter Koury as he contemplated the new facility. "I was impressed with its size, the lines, and with the way it was put together."
As Koury and others noted, however, one of the nicest things about the evening was not just viewing the remodeled facility, but having the community back together again, seeing familiar faces and meeting new people.
"It was quite an evening," said Symington.