The North Fort Myers Community Center, at 2000 North Recreation Park Way, will hold its ribbon-cutting ceremony at 10 a.m. Friday to officially open a facility that will not only serve as a recreational outlet for area residents, but also as a meeting place and, if need be, a shelter.
"With the limitations in the budget they did a great job," Gregg Makepeace, president of the North Fort Myers Civic Association. "We got to know the commissioners very well."
The event will feature County Commissioner John Manning as host and will include comments from many of the county commissioners, along with dignitaries such as Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Chris Jackson and unofficial mayor Al Giacalone.
Following the ribbon cutting, there will be self-guided tours and a big cake to celebrate the event.
The 35,000-square-foot facility includes several multipurpose rooms for meetings, youth and adult recreational and educational programs, a fitness center, game room and two gymnasiums, which are partitioned off.
The gymnasium has multipurpose basketball and volleyball courts, and other sports can be played on the hardwood floor, such as the popular pickleball.
For Makepeace, the extra utility space gives his organization and others a place to meet.
"We had meetings next to a funeral home and at Buddy Freddy's and churches," Makepeace said. "It's also going to do a lot for depressed areas such as Suncoast. We hope it's something uplifting."
The center is constructed of concrete, masonry and steel, and will serve as a Lee County emergency shelter as well.
Makepeace said that is of significant importance, since 18,000 homes in the area are of the manufactured variety.
"We aren't going to be able to take in all of them, but for those who can't evacuate, it somewhere we can put a few hundred people," Makepeace said. "We have so many homes built substandard."
The center also has an outdoor covered patio that overlooks a green space for community events and performances.
Makepeace said the facility will also be able to house big events indoors, if need be, and will be a boon to an area that needs it.
"We have a place now, before we didn't have anything. The library has one little room," Makepeace said. "The impact this will have is tremendous. We hope the community is aware of this and use it. It's there."