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Date of Issue: September 21, 2006

Center fundraising goal set: $2.8 million more for new building

new exterior pic
Future center
An artist's rendering of what the new Anna Maria Island Community Center exterior will look like was displayed at the September board of directors meeting. Islander Photo: Diana Bogan

After several meetings with the Anna Maria Island Community Center's design team, Executive Director Pierrette Kelly announced the cost of construction for the new Center facility is now at $4.1 million, almost twice the original $2.5 million budget.

Additional costs are related to material cost increases, permitting delays and unforeseen Federal Emergency Management Agency requirements, according to a Center board report.

"As a board and community, now is the time to come together to raise awareness and the $2.8 million required to make this a success," Kelly told the board at a Sept. 13 meeting. "We are at a critical path. It's both an exciting and challenging time for us. Built in 1983, we're glad to have our roots in a two-room school house."

The Center has raised $2.5 million in private donations and, although Kelly won't disclose who made contributions, she offered some general information about the donor group.

  • The average gift was $50,000, with the largest being $500,000.
  • The youngest contributors are in his or her 40s and the oldest in his or her 70s.

Kelly reported that Northern Trust Bank is providing the bridge financing to allow construction to begin, while the Center raises the remaining funds. Kelly said the Center must raise $500,000 in cash and $600,000 in pledges by January 2007. Kelly has set a goal of paying off the project in the next 20 months.

Naming opportunities are available as a fundraiser. This is a chance for members of the community to leave behind something and add to the Center history. Naming opportunities start at $15,000. Some of the spaces to lend names to include the gym, baseball field, playground, fitness studio, performing arts studio, computer center, teen center, stadium seating, press box, trophy wall, dugouts, and much more. Kelly has a complete list.

There will also be opportunities to purchase brick pavers for the open spaces.

Kelly said the Center has also focused on its eligibility for grant money. She noted, "Every penny collected goes directly to our project."

The former building has already been demolished and the time capsule was dug up Monday morning and will be buried again on-site of the new Center when it's completed.

While construction is under way, Anna Maria Elementary School has made space available for the Center's before- and after-school programs, holiday camp and summer camp.

St. Bernard Catholic Church is providing space for the Center's administration and adult programs. The City of Holmes Beach has opened its doors for the Center's teen programs, which meet in the public works building, as well as allowing the youth sports programs to utilize the city ball fields.

In other news, the Center's Sixth Annual Anna Maria Oyster Bar Golf Tournament will take place Sept. 29 at the Palm Aire Country Club and Golf Course. Funds raised by the tourney support youth sports programs and scholarships.

Finally, board members expressed concerns about recruiting new volunteers to help with Center events. Many parents volunteer at the sporting events in which their children participate. However, board members agreed they need more volunteers to help with other events, such as the upcoming golf tournament and tour of homes.

For more information about Center activities, construction or volunteer opportunities, call 778-1908.