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New resource center breaks ground in the south Cape

By Staff | Apr 16, 2011

The city’s original fire station is getting a second lease on life, so to speak, as it was officially rebranded the “Chester Street Resource Center” during a special ceremony on Friday.
City leaders, policy makers, safety personnel and citizens gathered for the occasion, which marked the beginning of 90 days worth of construction to bring the nearly 50- year-old building up to date.
Once completed, the former Fire Station One will house a police substation, and possibly other city services that are yet to be determined.
Community Redevelopment Agency Board members Frank Dethlefsen, who was also one of the driving forces behind the project, said the forthcoming resource center is a testament to the power of public and private partnerships.
“The most exciting thing is everyone getting together to make this happen,” Dethlefsen said. “It benefits none of the people involved, it only benefits the community.”
The Cape Coral Construction Industry Association is chipping in thousands of dollars of pro bono work to make the project a reality, along with a grant from the CRA and support of the City of Cape Coral.
The building will be dedicated, in part, to the memory of one-time CCCIA executive director Patti Schnell.
Dethlefsen praised the work of Schnell and said he was proud to be a part of something that memorialized her legacy in the city.
He also said the project helps the CRA.
“Our job is to get rid of blight, and this is an opportunity to showcase something we’re working on,” he said.
City historian Paul Sanborn said the station, built in 1963, served as the city’s first fire house, but also as the unofficial city hall because it was the only building big enough accommodate the crowds for council meetings after the city incorporated in 1970.
“We had to open the bay doors and pull the trucks out for the meetings,” Sanborn recalled.
CRA Board member Lou Simmons said the resource center, once completed, will be an asset for people living nearby.
“This is going to be great for people who live near here and might not have a car, or some way to make it to city hall,” he said. “This is what it’s all about.”
The resource center is expected to operational in roughly 90 days, after construction and facade work is completed.
For more information contact the Community Redevelopment Agency offices at 549-5615.