Save the Historic City Island Recreation Center!
● The Rec Center was built in 1943, primarily with funds from the Federal Works Administration (FWA), to serve as a dance hall for the many military personnel stationed here during WWII. It was the only building in Florida built for this purpose; it is unique. The City Commission voted to fund the stucco finish and a stronger roof so the building could serve the community long after the war. The building was actively used for community events, meetings, and classes until 2012, when the city closed the building. Since its closure, it hasn't been maintained in a manner appropriate for any municipal property, let alone an historic property.
● In 2017, the city prepared a report on The Rec Center saying the cost to functionally restore it would be $140,500 while the cost to demolish it would be $95,000. Saving The Rec Center would only cost $45,500 more than destroying it. The report also said there was no reason to save the building because no one was using it. How can people use it when it’s closed? In July 2018, when the Commission made murmurs of salvation for the building, the City Manager immediately insisted that the 2017 report was too old and needed to be updated.
● A new study was done by city staff in 2018. Interestingly, in this new report, the cost to functionally restore rose to $208,894 and the cost to demolish fell to $42,090. The new cost difference to save the building rose to $166,804. Post-hurricane insurance reports done in early 2018 state that the foundation is sound, except for normal settling and that there was no damage to the building due to the most recent hurricanes. They cite the damage is due to age AND NEGLECT.
● Did the Commission read these insurance reports before they decided to hire an outside consultant to price the true cost to functionally restore The Rec Center? There are many questions about the consultant’s estimated price tag of repairs - they proposed a Rolls Royce renovation when a nice sedan is all that's needed – but even they state: “Despite the age of the facility and recent water infiltration the structure is in relatively good condition. The materials used in the original construction are not readily available today and have proven to be generally durable and effective.”
● The Rec Center is a valuable city asset. Prior to its closure the city operated that building and it was well used by the community. Now that we know more about its true origins, there is an even greater reason to restore that building to again be an active part of our community. Civic pride is built on civic history, best learned in historic buildings. Keeping history vivid and alive means keeping historic places vital and active.
● The popular STEM summer classes taught at Valor Road could be moved to the Rec Center. The OASIS programs could be expanded to the Rec Center. Local dance groups could return to the Rec Center. The karate club could practice there. The Bridge Club could move to the Rec Center. Perhaps the cheerleader competition could have a small satellite presence at the Rec Center. The Veterans could have a rotating display from their Museum at the Rec Center. There are any number of ways the Rec Center would be a popular destination, bringing more business to Beach Street.
A city which does not value its past has no future.
Let our City Commissioners know
the City Island Rec Center is worth saving!
Derrick Henry, Mayor email@example.com (386) 671-8007
Ruth Trager, Zone 1 (386) 671-8001
Paula Reed, Zone 4 firstname.lastname@example.org (386) 671-8004
Stacy Cantu, Zone 6 email@example.com (386) 671-8006