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Date of Issue: October 19, 2006

Insurance: Will community center find wind insurance?

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Andy Price, board chair of the Anna Maria Island Community Center, stands at the construction site for the new $4.1 million building at the intersection of Magnolia and Crescent, Anna Maria. Finding wind insurance for the structure when it is completed next year, "is an issue for us," Price said. Islander Photo: Molly McCartney

The new $4.1 million Anna Maria Island Community Center building complex now under construction has adequate wind insurance coverage - at least for the moment.

But that coverage is only good during the construction phase, according to board chair Andy Price. When the building is completed next year, it will be up to the center's board to find new insurance.

"Whether it will be available, I don't know," Price said in an interview with The Islander.

The Center will have to go to the open insurance market for coverage because it is a non-residential property at 407 Magnolia Ave., about two blocks outside the state-designated "wind pool." That means the Center is not eligible for coverage through Citizens Property Insurance Corporation, the state's insurer of last resort.

Price said he is optimistic that the board will be able to find insurance for the new building because it is being constructed to tough new federal standards that make it more secure against wind and flood damage.

And, as he noted, "we could have kept the old building and we would still be struggling with insurance."  

Walbridge Aldinger Construction Company is building the new two-story community center. The old center was demolished several weeks ago.

Price said the Center is paying about $50,000 for the wind and property insurance needed during the construction phase. That policy was purchased by Walbridge Aldinger for the project and charged back to the Center as part of the construction cost.

Pierrette Kelly, the center's executive director, said that the board is in the process of appointing a task force to study the insurance issue and find coverage for the building when it is finished.

 The task force "will be a group that has worked with insurance before," she said, "and they will have several months before they actually have to make a decision."

Kelly said the insurance problem is "really challenging because every penny we raise we want to put back into programs, not insurance. We want to make sure the people we serve get the benefits, not the insurance company."

The center now has about $2.5 million in cash and pledges, according to Price. He said the center also has a $2 million loan that will have to be repaid at some point.

"Now that we have the building going into the ground, we expect to see a large influx of donations," he said. "So we are hoping in the next couple of years to pay off that loan and be free and clear."