FELLSMERE — Businesses along the east side of Broadway Avenue will soon be able to tap into a new sewer line made possible by a $200,000 federal grant. And first in line to hook into the system will be the Historic Fellsmere Inn, which could open for overnight visitors by 2012.
“If it wasn’t for Fred, this wouldn’t be happening today,” Fellsmere City Manager Jason Nunemaker said, referring to Fred Vanderveer, owner of the Fellsmere Inn.
Vanderveer discovered during his renovations of the historic site that, in order for the inn to be brought back to its original purpose, it needed to be connected to sewer.
“That was an obstacle for Fred,” Nunemaker said.
So began the hunt for grant funding that would pay for the utility line to be installed.
“Something close to my heart is restoration and preservation,” said USDA Rural Development Director Richard Machek prior to presenting the $200,000 check to the City of Fellsmere Thursday morning. “It’s a really neat thing.”
Machek told those gathered within the historic inn that Fellsmere received one of five grants issued this year by his agency.
“You don’t have to pay it back,” he said, drawing applause from the audience. “It’s done.”
Nunemaker said that he expects to have the sewer line installed before the end of the year.
“To me, this is a shining example of what we’re trying to do here in Fellsmere with redevelopment,” the city manager said of providing the utility lines. Once more businesses realize the lines are in place, he expects them to get connected, promoting more business growth in the heart of the city.
“This is really going to be something that will create jobs and bring value to the community,” Nunemaker said.
Sebastian River Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Beth Mitchell agreed, noting that the Fellsmere Inn will be able to serve a unique need in the community.
The inn will be the only hotel in the city once it opens, and is expected to cater to the hunting and fishing and outdoorsy crowds.
Vanderveer said he envisions hunters and fishermen to stay at the inn and get a filling breakfast before taking off for the day. The inn would provide a boxed lunch for the sportsmen to take with them and a gourmet meal for dinner when they return.
“It’s a big improvement,” Commissioner Bob Solari said, looking over the recent renovations. “You can almost see the visitors coming in now.”