Another summer without Penfield Pavilion

FAIRFIELD -- This will be the second summer -- and last, hopes the building committee charged with repairing storm-damaged Penfield Pavilion -- without the prime structure anchoring the local shoreline.

The pavilion, which had been rebuilt shortly before storms Irene and Sandy battered the town, took a devastating hit from Superstorm Sandy in October 2012 and has remained closed to the public since.

Penfield Beach itself is open, with both temporary bathrooms and a concession stand.

While the future of the pavilion has yet to be decided, residents at various forums on the issue have suggested a range of scenarios, from repairing the building to tearing it down and building only a small bathroom facility, and even moving it to Jennings Beach.

"This is an impressive asset that has to be brought back into service," Penfield Building Committee Chairman Jim Bradley told the Board of Selectmen last week.

The committee wants to have the pavilion open to the public once again by the summer of next year.

Fairfield First Selectman Michael Tetreau said there has been an offer made by the insurance company for the town's claim on damages to the structure.

"We're clarifying the terms, such as what's included in the coverage and what if the cost estimate from the insurance company doesn't pan out," the first selectman explained.

"The insurance reimbursement is based on what was there" at the time of Superstorm Sandy.

But, Tetreau said, the town can't rebuild what was there before Sandy because of a variety of factors, including changes in the foundation and the surrounding sand, as well as Federal Emergency Management Agency requirements.

Bradley said the committee has been able to provide better information to the group negotiating with the insurance company because of its fact finding, which has included presentations on the project history, soil and foundation construction details, elevations, storm damage, bulkhead design and construction, damage assessment, protection options, coastal issues, flooding issues and FEMA criteria.

The firm of DeStefano and Chamberlain has been selected as the project engineer, and Shawmut Design and Construction will be the construction manager.

According to Bradley, the various options for the pavilion's future have been boiled down to either repair and protect in place, or raise, repair and protect the structure to FEMA requirements.

The committee has, he said, "learned that the building can be repaired from both a physical and economic standpoint."

Selectman Kevin Kiley asked if the fact that the building has been sitting empty for two seasons has caused it to further deteriorate, and Bradley said, at this point, committee members do not think so.

"It's not wrecked or warped to a point it's beyond repair," Bradley said.