Sanibel Community House Moving Quickly To Reopen For Season

provided to The Santiva Chronicle

Like many Island facilities, the Sanibel Community House has had some unique challenges in recovering from Hurricane Ian. Many items needed to make repairs have been in short supply — everything from construction materials to electrical components, computer systems, audio-visual equipment and skilled labor, all of which has slowed down restoration work.

The Sanibel Community House six weeks after Hurricane Ian made landfall on Sept. 28, 2022. SC file photos by Shannen Hayes

However, eight months after the storm left its mark, the Community House has announced it expects to return to full operation in September, in time to host meetings and events for groups and organizations planning for the upcoming fall-spring season. Those wishing to reserve space and times for upcoming activities should contact the Community House office at 239-472-2155.

The Sanibel Community House is expected to return to full operation in September with a phased re-opening throughout the summer. Photos provided

Community House Executive Director Teresa Riska-Hall explained that opening the facility will happen in three phases over the summer, with partial access for some smaller events by June 15. In the first phase, Phase 1, the lobby area, the “Islanders” small meeting room, rest rooms and outdoor veranda will be available for smaller events.

By August 31, Phase 2 will be added, including the “Great Hall” auditorium, “Community Room” and kitchen facilities.
Groups that have held their regular meetings at the Community House in the past, including the Rotary Club and the Shellcrafters, will be moving their activities back to the House in the coming weeks.

The final phase, Phase 3, will come on stream by October 1, adding the “Founders Room”, which was part of the the original Community House historic structure dating from 1927.

“The floodwater from Ian washed out the original foundation pillars of the Founders Room, and repairing that area has been one of the most complicated parts of our restoration work, requiring the most time to complete,” Riska-Hall said. “But we are happy to report it should be ready to go by October.”

The Community House had completed a complete renovation project in 2016 which was much appreciated by Islanders, making the recent damage from Hurricane Ian all the more unfortunate. Current restoration work is designed to bring the facility back to its pre-storm function and appearance.

The Sanibel Community House, now in its 97th year, is owned and operated by the Sanibel Community Association (SCA), a non-profit 501-c-3 organization, with a long-held mission is to serve the civic, social and educational needs of the residents of our Island community.

“This is a very happy announcement for us,” said SCA Board President Carol Townsley. “The SCA Board has been anxious to get the Community House back in service and available to our Island neighbors to help them return to normal. Many groups rely on the House as a place to meet, and Island non-profits rely on it for their very important fundraising activities. We look forward to welcoming them back and supporting their work.”

Comments (1)

  1. Virginia H Gearhart

    I am thrilled that the repairs are going well and at what seems to be a record pace. We went to Sanibel Island for the first time in November of 2021. It was absolutely captivating. We stayed in White Caps #8 and spent 2 glorious weeks there. Before we left we booked another trip to White Caps #8 for November 2022. And we all know the rest of the story. We were heartbroken when we saw the devastating results of Hurricane Ian. We prayed and prayed for the islanders that they would once again enjoy the paradise they came to call home. We will be back!

Leave a Comment

We are interested in articulate, well-informed remarks that are relevant to the article. We welcome your advice, your criticism and your unique insights into the issues of the day. To be approved for publication, your comments should be civil and avoid name-calling. It may take up to 24 hours for your comment to appear, if it is approved.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.