Submitted by Gerry Clare
On a suddenly sunny February 26th at 1:30 p.m., white ribbon was stretched between the pillars of the Fernandina Beach comfort station, awaiting the arrival of the dignitaries to celebrate its renovation and expansion. The funds awarded to the city were a USDA Rural Business Enterprise Grant in the amount of $99,500 with the city contributing close to $50,000 over a year ago and the Historic Fernandina Business Association adding $500.
According to Cheryl Nichols, Fernandina Beach Grants Administrator for the last 4 years, the building was built in 1986 and renovated in 1994 to meet the Americans with Disabilities Act standards. This latest renovation expanded the building from 480 to 780 square feet and added one additional water closet, two hand sinks and two additional urinals in the men’s station, and four additional water closets and two sinks in the women’s restroom. A diaper changing station was added to both sides.
Additional remodeling included a new roof, new interior and exterior lighting, a motion detector system and enhanced ADA accessibility. Local architect, Randy Rice, and E.B. Morris General Contractors, Inc. were involved in the renovation and addition. Nichols mentioned that the downtown merchants had also played a key part in contributing information to help secure this grant.
Bob Ramshaw, vice- president of the Historic Fernandina Business Association cut the ribbon with Sarah Pelican, Mayor of Fernandina Beach, and Richard A. Machek, State Director of USDA Rural Development and it flew in the warm breeze. City Manager, Joe Gerrity and Dr. Brett Opalinski from the Methodist Church were also part of the program. Representatives from the Lake City Rural Development office and citizens, visitors and some city staff also attended.
The comfort station now has a total of 2 water closets and 3 urinals in the men’s restroom and 5 water closets and 3 sinks in the women’s restroom and is really light and attractive as a modern addition to our city.
Right next to the Comfort Station which is located at 102 Centre Street is the old Railway Depot, which also needs updating in the near future. If you are concerned about the restrooms at Central Park, that would take a state recreation grant and Cheryl says that is being worked on as well.
Editor’s Note: The grant request for the Comfort Station was approved by the USDA in 2011.
February 27, 2013 1:11p.m.