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New station at Fort Myers Beach now helps Coast Guard protect you after Ian

The historic hurricane set construction back -- which had been underway since 2018 --- by a year.
Posted at 10:40 PM, Mar 13, 2024

FORT MYERS BEACH, Fla. — The official opening of the new U.S. Coast Guard facility was marked by a ceremonial ribbon-cutting on Wednesday morning.

The anticipated facility, which began construction in 2018, faced delays due to Hurricane Ian, pushing back its completion by a year.

The crew of more 60 guardsmen rotated between temporary locations at Moss Marina and the Horton Boat Ramp. The completion of this project an upgrade in terms of both functionality and living conditions for the Coast Guard members stationed there.

When Fox 4's Fort Myers Beach Community Correspondent Anvar Ruziev asked the crew about their favorite changes, Petty Officer 2nd Class Kieran Neschich expressed his enthusiasm about the personal space the new building offers.

"Probably the rooms, having my own space, instead of being in one big room with everybody. It's nice to have somewhere to go, that's yours," he shared.

Commanding Officer Christopher Cone also shared a similar enthusiasm.

"The rooms are nicer than living in the trailers that we lived in at Moss Marina, the galley facility for the crew to eat versus a food truck, so that's exciting to me," Cone said.

The new 21,000 square foot station will serve a vast area of Southwest Florida, stretching from Charlotte Harbor to Everglades City.

Equipped with a fleet that includes two 29-foot boats and two 45-foot boats, the station is tasked with responsibilities like, search and rescue operations, recreational boat safety patrols, law enforcement, treaty enforcement, and hurricane relief efforts.

Chief Engineer Amy Grable highlighted the building's sturdy design, built to endure up to 181 mile per hour winds, ensuring resilience against future storms.

Despite a budget of $35 million, the project's total cost came in under, at approximately $30 million, with the building itself accounting for $23 million. The funding also included a congressional supplement following Hurricane Ian.

Cone also pointed out another significant advantage of the new location, "We'll be able to respond quicker, because we're right there instead of having to go out to Punta Rassa and fight the 30 minutes to an hour traffic, going through it in season."