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CCCIA: 50 years and counting

Cape Coral Construction Industry Association continues helping city move forward

By TOM HAYDEN - | Mar 4, 2021

Tom Hayden

“https://ogden_images.s3.amazonaws.com/www.capecoralbreeze.com/images/2020/07/28112242/675755_1.jpg” alt=”” width=”600″ height=”400″ class=”alignnone size-full wp-image-695908″ />”We are advocates for the consumer and the construction industry…without one, the other can’t exist.”

Emphasizing a mission of advocacy, the Cape Coral Construction Industry Association is built to serve its members and the community. Members have embraced these values for 50 years.

As the group celebrates a milestone anniversary and with it a continued commitment to an industry, which is at the heart of this community’s economic sustainability, I look back at how these 50 years have shaped the CCCIA and the city.

Just a year after Cape Coral voters to incorporate in 1970, the CCCIA roared to life as a non-profit organization, providing a building compass to a community trying to find its way in the world of pre-platted living where homes were going to be built at an unprecedented rate.

With Arnold Weisberg as its first president, the CCCIA rapidly collected popularity and members. By 1972, it tackled its first civic project, building the pavilion at what was then called Civic Park on Coronado Parkway. In 1984, the park was renamed Veterans Park and the pavilion is still used today for spirited games of bocce.

In 1974, a membership drive kicked off, leading to a group that know encompasses approximately 350 businesses, builder, and related services, like suppliers, mortgage companies and banks.

The 1970s also saw the CCCIA name its first honorary member, John Mell, a retiring building official, the construction of the MDA house in Cape Coral and the construction of the Cape Coral Chamber of Commerce building. The winner of the MDA House was determined in a one-of-a-kind raffle. Tickets were placed in an empty concrete truck, the tickets spun and the winner selected.

Protecting the interest of the builders is at the core of the CCCIA’s mission. That commitment was seeded in 1980 when the city and the CCCIA took FEMA to court over wrongly developed flood elevation changes that would have impacted the costs of homes. They beat FEMA – twice. In 1982, the CCCIA also stopped an arbitrary attempt to raise impact fees without the proper research.

Community projects continued in the 1980s, as the CCCIA built the concession stand at Cape Coral High School and launched a fundraiser for Statue of Liberty renovations and construction of the porch at the Cape Coral Museum of History. The group also had its first CCCIA Construction Products Expo and first golf tourney.

The 1990s brought more firsts with the debut of the group’s newsletter, the inaugural Builders Showcase and Patti Schnell hired as the first full-time executive director.

A Hall of Fame, recognizing the top accomplishments of individuals to the city’s development, was created in 2001, with Weisberg and Robert Greco as the first inductees. The last inductee came in 2013 when Richard Durling was enshrined. There are ongoing discussions about reviving the honors.

In 2002, there was more controversy as the city tried to enforce a moratorium on building along Burnt Store Road. The CCCIA, with Annette Carrasquillo as president, prevented that unwelcome plan. The CCCIA also fought the federal government in 2004 over dock building moratoriums to protect the manatees. The Manatee Protection Plan was developed and restrictions put in place, but dock building has continued.

Over the years, the CCCIA has clashed with city staff but also found common ground. Its work with staff has resulted in new land development codes, reductions in permit fees, upgrades in technologies and adding new positions to the building department. It currently is working with the city on establishing new seawall standards and is in the process of developing a pavement restoration standards task force.

Community involvement has continued over the last eight years with a renovation of the Chester Street Resource Center, a room addition for special populations and renovations at the Chamber of Commerce building.

Other changes for the CCCIA over 50 years have been upgrades to its logo, including a special one for its 50th anniversary, location changes to three offices in the business park across from City Hall and 49 presidents.

Tom Hayden is a Cape Coral Museum of History board member and a Cape Coral City Council member, representing District 3. He writes a column twice a month on the city’s history for the Cape Coral Breeze.