Letter: Kiley faults Tetreau on Penfield delays

Many citizens have expressed frustration with the progress of Penfield Pavilion. While it's uncommon for a selectman to express concerns in the letters column, given the high level of discussion and angst in the community, I thought it appropriate to share my views.

Penfield Pavilion is in danger of being out of commission for a third straight summer next year, and I feel the indecisiveness in this matter warrants explanation.

We all understand that Sandy wreaked havoc on the beach area, and it takes time to recover from such devastation. I believe over two years is too long. The rebuilding should have begun by now. Why the delay?

The Penfield Building Committee was formed by the administration, approved by the Board of Selectmen and the RTM in November, 2013, 13 months after the storm. Given the importance of Penfield to town recreation, the committee should have been appointed sooner. This delay was the first in a series of decisions that have now put yet another summer in jeopardy.

The committee has done a great job, considering the thicket of engineering challenges, neighborhood concerns, cost restraints, flooding issues, insurance negotiations and FEMA regulations they had to cut through. They thoroughly reviewed over a dozen different options and their report was ready for a crucial selectmen's presentation on Oct. 1. The committee settled upon Option Seven, which is also the plan that I personally favor. It's moderate in size, scope, and cost, and preserves a major town asset and the neighborhood's quality of life with a reasonable budget.

Unfortunately, others were unprepared. The first selectman was to present his findings, and the chief financial officer was tasked with a fiscal analysis. These reports were not ready last month, and the presentation was postponed. They are not alone. The town-hired FEMA consultant exacerbated the delay by not having final figures. This situation may seem to absolve the town officials, but I believe they could have drafted a proposal including a range of FEMA contributions and moved forward, especially since the consultant has been in regular contact with the first selectman's office.

Construction is estimated to take eight months. Given this reality and the delayed presentations, Penfield will not likely be open for July 4th, meaning two of summer's biggest weekends may be lost. Meanwhile, the property continues to deteriorate, and residents continue to pay for an unusable building.

This did not have to be. Both administration reports consisted mainly of readily available data. The missed deadlines last month, combined with the delay forming the committee, make it difficult for the Board of Finance and RTM to consider the proposal in a timely manner, pushing reconstruction past Memorial Day.

The first selectman is like the CEO or quarterback of the town. All decisions eventually go through his office. The project has been waylaid by indecision and lack of leadership. Eventually the quarterback has to call a play to move the ball forward, but the administration has consistently decided to punt or call time out.

Selectman Kevin Kiley