ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN NEWS) — A ribbon cutting and reopening of the Belle Isle Police Station took place Tuesday, April 4, 2017 in the City of Belle Isle. The entire project was privately funded and managed by Belle Isle resident, community partner and philanthropist Christopher M. Comins. “We are very grateful for Mr. Comins’ generous donation to completely renovate the Belle Isle Police Department building, making it a safer and environmentally friendly workplace for our law enforcement officers,” said Belle Isle Mayor Lydia Pisano.
“I was talking with the Belle Isle Police Chief, Laura Houston, and she shared the challenges they were facing with their building,” said Comins (above). “I walked into to the facility and literally turned around and walked out.” A roof leak had managed its way into the walls and insulation, resulting in a substantial mold issue. Comins is no stranger to construction with a multitude of projects currently underway in Belle Isle alone, including thirty townhomes and five waterfront single family properties.
Comins contacted Rabits and Romano Architects, a local architectural firm, for their review and analysis of the building. They promptly suggested the complete removal of the roof and all interior walls. Over ten dumpsters full of debris were removed from the structure.
“No one…especially the men and women that protect us every day, should have to work in conditions like that. So I set my own budget and timeline. I came in under budget and the project was completed in ninety days–thirty days early.” – Chris Comins on the state of the Belle Isle Police Station
Comins, who also acted as construction manager, was vague as to the total amount he invested, but he did hint it was substantial. Comins not only renovated the space, he also chose everything, including the interior furnishings.
Belle Isle Commissioner Bobby Lance noted, “The quality of this project was top notch. I am extremely impressed with the building and his generous gift to our City.” Other Belle Isle Commissioners present were Councilwoman Sue Nelson, Councilman Ed Gold, Councilman Anthony Carugno, Councilman Jeremy Weinsier, and Councilman Lenny Mosse.
Orange County Commissioner Pete Clarke was also present, and discussed his upcoming project with Comins that hits close to home for the construction magnate: an interactive park for special needs children at Warren Park in Belle Isle. “I’m working with Mr. Comins on a project for Warren Park,” said Clarke. “His generosity to the community is appreciated by all,” said Clarke. Comins noted that he has a place in his heart for special needs children. “My daughter Jenny Lynn, recently gave birth to my first grandson, who happens to have Down Syndrome.” Consequently, Jenny has opened her own foundation called The Upside of Down! and is working together with her father to design the interactive park.
Comins, accompanied by Ashley Morgan, was presented with a framed certification of appreciation (below) and a permanent plaque on the outside of the building acknowledging his donation (second below).
The unveiling was attended by a large crowd of Belle Isle residents. “I’ve come to know Chris as a friend, and can tell you that he is one of the most generous individuals I have ever met. He gives from his heart with no self-interest whatsoever. Not a lot of people like that,” said longtime Belle Isle resident Melissa McGee.
While it may not sound like it, Comins recently retired after owning his own industrial piping business for over thirty years. Comins, who is politically active, explains why he is engaged, which is not surprising: “You get to a place in life where you can slow down and have more time to help people. I’ve had a life of blessings. Now it’s my turn to share those blessings with my community wherever and whenever I can.”
Belle Isle is located just minutes south of Downtown Orlando and is known for its tree-lined streets and pristine waterways on the Conway Chain of Lakes. Mr. Comins, a father of three, lives in Belle Isle where he just recently renovated his waterfront estate.
Randy Ross is a political contributor covering politics & power for Florida National News. news@FloridaNationalNews.com