Finance panel toured Penfield in advance of vote tonight on $3.2M plan to rebuild pavilion
Before the Board of Finance was to vote Tuesday on a $3.28 million funding package for the reconstruction of a large part of Penfield Pavilion, its members gathered Friday at the beachfront building for a special meeting.
Guided by Public Works Director Richard White, Parks and Recreation Director Gerry Lombardo and Jim Gallagher, the chairman of the Penfield Building Committee, board members examined the decaying 109-year-old pavilion.
The nine-person board was able to see underneath the floor, where public works had cut up sections, to examine the rotting wood and loose nails. They were also shown the upstairs portion of the pavilion, the foundation underneath and the locker room area.
"It was very helpful," said finance Chairman Tom Flynn. "I've been here a number of times to utilize it. I was able to notice a lot you don't when you are just enjoying the beach."
Flynn said he was not surprised by the level of disrepair, but was pleased to have the chance to examine under the building, where "you don't typically get to see."
At its Tuesday meeting, the finance panel will decide on whether to approve the $3.28 million in funding for the proposed reconstruction project. The session will take place at 7:30 p.m. in the administrative offices of the Board of Education on Kings Highway
The Board of Selectmen unanimously approved the money at its Aug. 18 meeting. If the money is approved by the finance board and, later, by the Representative Town Meeting, the center portion and west wing of the structure would be rebuilt. A new east wing of the pavilion was completed in 2008 as part of a separate project that cost the town $830,000.
White said the floor in the main room is literally "floating" on the top of the joints because nails have come loose. In addition, new supports would need to be put in place to hold up the second floor. In the locker area, the floor is "spongy," because of decay.
The building sits on concrete cinderblocks, White said, making it extremely vulnerable to coastal storms. The way the building was built, it is on the highest point of the beach and raised to let storm surges flow underneath, causing the wood to rot and the sand to disappear.
As White guided the finance board around the pavilion, he pointed out many add-ons and repairs that make the building strange.
"There are a lot of oddities here," White said, adding that he is surprised the building has lasted as long as it has.
White said the structure now known as Penfield Pavilion was built in 1901 and the original building footprint remains. There were minor renovations in 1920 and 1964 as well as upgrades to meet minimum American Disabilities Act requirements.
The building and adjacent beachfront was purchased by the town for $1.8 million in May 1978. It was originally built as a private beach club. White said in his report to the Board of Finance that by opening the building to the public, including non-residents, "its use expanded enormously as did the demand on the facility. The town more than tripled the parking capacity."
Some finance board members and the public have suggested that it could be possible to wait to rebuild or restore the building, but White, Lombardo and Gallagher believe that would be impossible. Based on their reports, town Fiscal Officer Paul Hiller agreed.
"We can't do nothing," said Hiller, adding that there would be a lot that would have to be done to reopen the pavilion in May. "If this does not pass, there will be requests for other monies for something."
Hiller said that the costs for maintenance, which would be necessary, are not in any department's budget for 2010-11. White said public works would basically have to replace the entire floor and the piers that the building rests on as a bare minimum.
That would also create an issue with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, because the building now fails to comply with the agency's code. Therefore, any construction would have to be less than 50 percent of the building's value. White said renovations would likely cost close to $500,000, including codework that does not count against the 50 percent number. The building is currently valued at around $568,000, according to Hiller.
White said public works has been in a "holding pattern," when it comes to repairs over the past few years because officials anticipated a complete reconstruction project was likely coming and would be the best option.
He said, at this point, that piecemeal repairs are simply wasteful.