by SC Reporter Teresa Vazquez
SC Publisher Shannen Hayes contributed to this article
Sanibel City Council unanimously voted to move forward with the Center4Life project. The next step is to advertise for an architect, according to the pre-construction timeline presented to council at their meeting Monday, Sept. 14, by Community Services Director Keith Williams.
“There’s a process by state law about how we can go about selecting professional services like engineers and architects,” Williams said, referring to the Consultants Competitive Negotiations Act that provides for a qualification-based process.
Center4Life, the island’s senior center offering a variety of programs by the Sanibel Recreation Department, has been sharing a small space with the affordable housing organization Community Housing and Resources on the corner of Library Way and Tarpon Bay Road.
In December 2019, council unanimously voted to purchase the Sanibel Captiva Community Bank building, located next to the current Center4Life on Library Way, for a new and better facility. Mayor Kevin Ruane, at the time, affirmed that islanders would not incur the cost from the $1,899,176 purchase of the building.
Ruane gave the same assurance at the Sept. 14 council meeting. “I think it was imperative for us to move forward (with the Center4Life project),” he said. “We did borrow the $5 million. We did purchase the bank. We do have the $3 million sitting there waiting. It’s not going to impact the taxpayer’s millage rate.”
A funding memo prepared by Finance Director Steve Chaipel showed the city issued debt in June for $15 million, of which $5 million was designated for the Center4Life project and the remainder for the ongoing sewer plant renovation. There is approximately $3.1 million in the capital project fund to complete the Center4Life building renovation.
The city’s tentative budget for fiscal year 2021 includes $1,838,800 for design and partial construction costs of the building. That leaves an estimated $1,228,023 in the capital project fund at the end of the fiscal year (Sept. 30, 2021) for future expenditures.
Advertising for an architect will begin Oct. 19 with a submission deadline of Nov. 20 and council is scheduled to make a choice in January 2021, according to the pre-construction timeline. It also projects construction to start in early 2022.
The Sanibel Captiva Community will be relocating its main branch from Library Way to the former SunTrust bank building on Periwinkle Way. Renovations there are underway.