EDITOR'S NOTE: The following report from the Rotary Club of Sanibel Captiva meeting at the Sanibel Community House on Friday, Nov. 13, was submitted by Shirley Jewell of the Rotary Club.

Our Snowbird Rotarians are back on Island, it was time for a club assembly. Assemblies focus on up-coming fundraising events or provide committee updates. This past week Sanibel-Captiva Rotary Trust Board members Scott Congress, Chet Sadler and Immediate Past President Bill Rahe put together a presentation regarding giving practices of our Rotary Club.

Requests come to this committee in a couple of ways: member submission or applications from organizations and non-profits seeking funding for special projects. Once a funding application is brought to the committee a member is chosen as an internal sponsor with responsibility for making sure necessary paperwork supporting request is in place, requests are reviewed by the committee, following status of request, and following-up on grants approved. Rotarian Chet Sadler, also serves on the committee as Rotary Foundation representative basically centering in on partnering projects that seek matching funds from Rotary District #6960 or Rotary International. Since this assembly involved internal information, this column will not go into detail regarding grant requests sought, pending, declined, or approved. Therefore, I am re-submitting an edited column published in July on the Sanibel Community House.

If the walls of the Community House could talk, they would reveal stories of Island politics, social gatherings, and about the founding of many civic organizations and cultural activities on the Island. The original Community House structure of about 1,500 square feet was built in 1927…now called the North Room /added onto twice after…in the 1950s the middle room, and in the 1979 the auditorium.

There has been much speculation about whether the Community Association would move the Community House across Periwinkle to become part of the proposed Common Core project. After much thoughtful consideration and pressing needs to improve the Community House, the Sanibel Community Association Board and Community Association Membership determined that they would not move the Sanibel Community House but would keep this historic part of Sanibel’s history right where the community placed it in 1927.

With that decision made, it was time to discuss the actual condition and functionality of the present building. The historic part of the building works extremely well and is in relatively good standing but not so with the 1950s and 1970s expansion add-ons. The problems: building flow, electrical and sound system, fire and air system, restroom functionality, kitchen layout, and storage. After internal discussions and with community members, construction professionals, and the city, an architect was called in to draw up some plans. There was tweaking, more tweaking, re-tweaking, city input, change of architect and finally a plan.

Stop by the lobby of the Community House; check the beautiful architectural drawings by Architect, Amy Nowacki, AIA. You will be duly impressed… from the restoration of the original historic structure... opening back up the front window area to extended the width of that entrance side and replacing the now very worn floor with similarly appropriate and aged wood. The most extensive area to be renovated will be the center part of the building…major changes will happen here…a portico style structure and entrance will bring you into a new welcoming entry-way lobby… to relocate the lobby the current hall and storage areas now leading to the North Room will be opened up and combined …complete rebuilding of the middle room including new electrical and sound system and a complete remodeling of the kitchen expanding the footprint into the storage and hall space nearby stealing floor space where ever possible…the auditorium will pretty much stay the same with new electrical and sound system but both outside walls of the auditorium will be reconfigured. The current lobby space will be rebuilt to house restrooms; a corridor, storage space and an abutted expansion on this side of the building will include a small boardroom and outside vestibule…on the opposite outside wall of the auditorium the plans calls to add on storage space for the Shellcrafters.

Even before the Common Core idea was put forth, the Community House was beginning to put aside funding for some of these updates but it became more and more apparent that it was time to go ahead and bite the bullet…major renovation was needed. Estimated cost somewhere around $3 Million.

The Community Association is asking the community to rally around this project. The land the Community House sits on was donated by an Islander, the original Community House was built with funds raised by the community, subsequent additions were funded by the community, and now it’s time to do it again. The $3 million should not be that hard to raise and will guarantee that this historic place will continue to be here for many generations to come. Stop by the Community House, look at the plans, ask questions …oh, and bring your checkbook.

The Sanibel-Captiva Rotary meets at 7 a.m. Friday mornings at the Sanibel Community House, Periwinkle Way. Guests are always welcomed.