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An open letter from the chamber president

February 19, 2014
Pine Island Eagle

To the editor:

As your new chamber president, I would like to thank you all for allowing me to be a part of the best chamber in Southwest Florida. Our goal as your Chamber of Commerce is to bring more customers to your businesses and more visitors to our area. The destruction of our old building by fire and the contracting of a new building has been difficult and time consuming. During this process your chamber board has worked very hard to represent the interests of its members with honesty and openness. We look forward to putting all of our energy into marketing our chamber member businesses and bringing more visitors to Pine Island.

Many of you have asked for updates on the new building. As of today, we expect to be in our new building near the end of February.We plan on holding our March 20, 6 p.m., Card Exchange at the new chamber welcome center for everyone to see the hard work we have all put into making this building something the chamber will be proud of.

Along the way, your chamber board of directors and Building Committee have dealt with the challenges of changing requirements from Lee County, federal requirements and many other issues that come up in a construction project. The chamber board, while being a group of volunteers, has consistently come together to address any issues with the building in a timely manner, spending many additional hours researching, discussing and holding extra meetings to assure that our building met all of the requirements of the local and state regulations. Throughout the process the chamber board of directors has adhered to all state and county regulations regarding the contracting of a commercial building. Lee County has issued our permits and approved all work done by our licensed contractor based on the standards of Lee County and the laws of the state of Florida.

In the end, our new chamber welcome center will be a showplace of energy efficiency and low maintenance design.

Here is a preview of what you will see at our March Card Exchange.

Our original designs prepared by Jim Schivinski, engineering and design, went out for bid last February. However, one request in the bid specifications for attention to "green building" struck a chord with our contractor, Ron Marra, of Marra Construction, who is a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified builder. Ron made a significant commitment to the green building initiative.

Throughout the design process our building committee was presented with options to improve energy efficiency and reduce maintenance. Each choice was carefully considered to compare upfront costs with long term savings.

State-of-art "smart building" with:

* Island flavor design with rustic "Hardie" colorplus lap siding

* Pre-cast concrete floors

* Pella impact low-e energy efficient windows

* ICF (insulated concrete form) walls

* Icynene spray insulation in the roof truss system

* Functional "cupola" with windows to provide natural light

* Secondary roof "peel & stick" roof underlayment

* Galv-a-lum metal roof

* Fully compliant with ADA requirements

Further, we incorporated a Chiller Air Conditioning system (newly available for smaller buildings) that will substantially reduce our air conditioning energy costs for years to come, we raised the ceiling height and cleverly re-located the handicap ramp to increase aesthetics.

This took time, effort, dedication and a minimal increase in budget. But, what we got in return was a fabulously energy efficient building which will be the lowest cost to maintain going forward. The Hardie siding has the color impregnated into the cement fiberboard and will never require painting. Additionally, all the stair, porch and ramp structures were re-designed from wood to pre-cast concrete, again never needing painting. This, we felt was an important consideration for a volunteer organization.

As we moved from design to building, we encountered a few surprises such as changes in the fire code requiring an independent sprinkler system for the building with a dedicated water line resulting in a significant budget increase. And, there were changes in the Americans with Disabilities Act that we accommodated for the final permit issued Aug. 17.

All along the way, our Building Committee supplemented by Jim Schivinski and most recently, Chuck Newman, board of directors, Jennifer Jennings and Ron Marra have committed countless hours working toward a successful completion. Nothing would be accomplished without their steadfast dedication and commitment to excellence.

The building exterior is now fully sided and trimmed with finishing work begun on the interior. And, we are very close to our occupancy target.

Your chamber board of directors, staff and volunteers have put countless hours into the many challenges of the building project while still doing our primary job of marketing the Greater Pine Island Chamber businesses. Our chamber marketing committee is working on several new "on island" events as well as expanding our direct marketing to Lee County hotels and the many communities nearby. We look forward to focusing all of our energy on promoting our Island and our members.

As your chamber president, I look forward to working with each and every member to make sure we are doing the best we can for you. Please contact me with any questions, comments or just to meet and chat about what we can do better.

Jim Roach, President - Greater Pine Island Chamber of Commerce



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