The approval of the Greater Pine Island Chamber of Commerce board of directors has set into motion the groundbreaking for the new Welcome Center, which is tentatively scheduled for May.
Building Committee Chairman Pat Hutchinson said the building committee met Monday, March 11, and reviewed the proposal before it was brought before the GPICC board of directors Tuesday, March 12.
On Feb. 28, bids went out for the new chamber building with a deadline two weeks later. Hutchinson said they received a bid from Marra Construction, Gatewood Custom Carpentry and Stearns Custom Builder Inc.
"Very competitive and compelling," she said of the bids they received.
GPICC President Steve Timcak said the chamber committed to Marra Construction March 26.
In terms of building costs, Hutchinson said they are well within their budget.
"The construction, depending on permitting, should start in about a month with a projected completion in August/September and a grand opening in the fall," Timcak said. "Things are moving right along."
Timcak said they will almost exclusively use island contractors for the rebuilding of the Welcome Center.
"We are headed in the right direction," he said.
Hutchinson said they will have the builder and engineer Jim Schivinski, PE of Engineering & Design Consultants Inc., get together to finalize detailed construction plans, which are needed for permitting, as well as for the development order.
Hutchinson said Schivinski has shown real dedication to the cause and has donated all of his time with creating the preliminary perspective of the building.
Schivinski said he would like to thank Commissioner John Manning, as well as offer an advanced thank you to county staffers Bob Stewart, building official, Peter Eckenrode, director of development services, and other staffers that have helped.
Hutchinson said Honc was also extremely helpful, certifying the existing septic system, which was approved for reuse.
The same footprint of the old Welcome Center, she said, will mostly be used. Hutchinson said they have made some minor modifications to the design.
Timcak said the building, described as a "pretty building," will have some unique features.
"We are going to go as green as possible," he said.
An important aspect of the building is its green concept, and Hutchinson said Chamber Director Carie Call is heading up that initiative. She said that Call does environmental consulting with her business Pine Island Consulting.
The building, which will have the old island flavor design with a rustic "hardy" color plus lap sliding style, will be 1,152 square feet, and feature a look-through concept. Hutchinson said the style will keep with its surroundings.
"It looks like it belongs on the island," she said of the building.
The Welcome Center will also include pre-cast concrete floors, Pella impact low-energy efficient windows, insulated concrete form walls, Icynene spray insulation in the roof truss system, functional cupola with windows to provide natural light, secondary roof peel and stick roof underlayment and Galv-a-lum metal roof.
The building will also be fully compliant with ADA requirements.
Once the Welcome Center is built, the chamber is moved in and things are running smoothly, Hutchinson said they will begin working on the property to make it become a destination people would like to visit while eating lunch, or just a spot to stop and enjoy. She said the Pine Island Garden Club wants to get on board with the landscaping to make the property special.
"It's an ongoing process as we move forward," Hutchinson said.
Hutchinson said she appreciates the community's patience through the process of replacing the building, which was destroyed in a fire on Friday, Jan. 13, 2012.