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.
However, eight months after the storm left its mark, the Community House has announced that 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.
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. Said Riska-Hall: “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. 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. Said SCA Board President Carol Townsley: “This is a very happy announcement for us. 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.”