Construction on the new Army Reserve Center in northeast Cape Coral is expected to be under way in the next month, military officials reported.
A groundbreaking ceremony was held Saturday at the site, located adjacent to the Veterans Administration Outpatient Clinic, near Diplomat Parkway and Corbett Road. The project is expected to be completed by September 2013.
Mayor John Sullivan was in attendance at the ground breaking.
"I think it's going to bring a lot of revenue into the Cape," he said of the project, adding that the soldiers will spend money at local businesses.
Councilmember John Carioscia agreed.
"We're expecting several hundred of these recruits to come in, and with the VA hospital directly across it, it's going to be a win-win for us," he said.
"It's going to definitely help the economy," Carioscia said, adding that the city is looking for businesses interested in opening in that area, the Veterans Investment Zone or VIZ. "To help with the economy and bring in more jobs."
Councilmember Rana Erbrick also voiced support for the center.
"It will bring some jobs to the area," she said. "Depending on the type of base they're going to bring in, it may bring some auxiliary businesses."
Erbrick called the project a great thing for the Cape.
"Especially with the VA center about to be opened up this fall," she said. "I'm looking forward to it being built, up and running, and part of our community."
Col. Pat Briley, the director of public works at the 81st Regional Support Command, explained that the center has been in the works for more than a decade, as the military examined sites for a reserve in Southwest Florida.
"We're just now at the point of building," he said.
Contractors are expected to be on site within 30 days to start. The total cost of the center is about $10.8 million, funds allocated through Congress.
"It may just go a tad over that," Briley said, adding that enhancements may be made to the plan, including an energy efficient system and equipment.
"That just will cost a little bit more but, in the long run, save a lot of money," he said.
Briley did not expect the cost to rise above $11 million or $11.5 million, and officials should have a decision on the additions by September or October.
The center will consist of a 38,000-square-foot training building, complete with offices, classrooms, a miniature gym, a weapons simulations room and a battle assembly area. Four Army Reserve units will be stationed at the site.
There will be an 8,000-square-foot organizational maintenance shop, which Briley compared to a car shop, and a 2,000-square-foot storage building.
"It's really a training center," he said of the site's main purpose.
Approximately 325 soldiers will be based out of the center, where three weekends out of each month there will be training going on. An estimated eight soldiers and two or three civilians will be stationed there full-time.
The four units to be based out of the site are the 365th Engineer Company, 451st Quartermaster Company, 810th Military Police Company and second of the 485th Regiment. Each unit focuses on specialized skills that it trains on.
Briley explained that the 365th Engineer Company - largest of the four - is responsible for things like clearing roads of IEDs and laying mine fields. The 451st Quartermaster Company's duties are running supplies to other units.
The 810th Military Police Company serves as military police and deals with POWs, while the second of the 485th Regiment is a "drill sergeant" unit.
"They train young soldiers in different skills," he said.
According to Briley, the facility is currently called the Cape Coral United States Army Reserve Center. However, officials want to memorialize the center by naming it after a local soldier and are now taking nominations.
"We really want it to be a Cape Coral hometown boy or girl," he said, adding that officials know there have been several in the last decade who have given their life serving the nation. "There are several from the Cape Coral area."
To nominate a soldier to name the center after, contact Col. Pat Briley at (803) 751-1890 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or contact Public Affairs Specialist Mike Brady at (803) 751-9694 or email@example.com.