Penfield Pavilion repair plan, swamped by financiers' questions, sent back for review

Pnefield Building Committee Chairman James Bradley, left, and First Selectman Mike Tetreau, make their presentation on a $4.6 million fundring request to repair Penfield Pavilion to the Board of Finance Thursday.
Pnefield Building Committee Chairman James Bradley, left, and First Selectman Mike Tetreau, make their presentation on a $4.6 million fundring request to repair Penfield Pavilion to the Board of Finance Thursday.Genevieve Reilly

A wave of questions, and not a little confusion, at Thursday's Board of Finance meeting sent a $4.6 million funding request for repairing Penfield Pavilion back to the building committee that recommended the plan and to the Board of Selectmen.

The finance board voted to take no action on the request, and asked the building panel to take another look at including lockers in its proposal to reopen the storm-damaged pavilion in view of new figures received after the selectmen backed the project last week.

The building committee has recommended a project that calls for demolishing Penfield Pavilion's east wing, which houses the lockers, and moving the west wing into the parking lot while new timber piles are driven and a new foundation is constructed. A small addition with some bathrooms and changing rooms would be built on the pavilion's east side when it is moved onto the foundation.

Recreation Director Gerald Lombardo said the Parks and Recreation Commission had favored keeping lockers in the reconstruction plan, but it was felt that would make the project too costly. The lockers generate about $38,000 in rental revenue annually.

But based on new information from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, rebuilding the lockers could mean a net increase in the town's share of the project of only about $200,000. Before FEMA reimbursement is considered, rebuilding the lockers was estimated at about $1.2 million.

Finance Chairman Thomas Flynn said one of the questions he's heard from residents is "if we're spending the money, why aren't we getting the lockers back."

And finance board member James Walsh, who made the motion to take no action, said locker revenue would pay back the town's cost for those lockers in a little under eight years.

Depending on how FEMA classifies the project, the town's share of the total project cost could be either $600,000 or $1.2 million. The higher cost share would apply if FEMA deems the project as an alternative project, meaning the reimbursement would not be based on the total construction but rather $4.13 million, and would reimburse only 90 percent of eligible costs at 75 percent. If it is deemed a repair or improvement, 100 percent of the eligible costs of the $4.6 million would be reimbursed at 75 percent.

Confusion arose because of different cost numbers for repair options used by the building committee in its presentation and those used by town Fiscal Officer Robert Mayer.

Finance member Catherine Albin said that it really didn't matter whether the committee and Mayer were using different numbers for the same options, because the resolution before the board dealt only with repair option 7 -- the option recommended by the building committee. Albin said she didn't want the finance board to take on the role of a building committee.

Building committee member Robert Bellitto agreed with Albin. He said while there seemed to be a disconnect between the committee's presentation and Mayer's, and the numbers and option labeling, "What's before you is option 7. The other options have been presented for comparison ... This isn't a Chinese menu." Option 7, he said, is the only repair plan referred to the finance board for a decision.

Flynn said he wanted to know if the building committee had the full benefit of the latest information, because if it had, it might want to reconsider. Saying he meant no disrespect to the committee, "I don't know how you can stand behind" the recommended repair plan.

Building committee Chairman James Bradley said the panel reviewed 11 different options before selecting option 7. "We stand by the numbers we have produced as a committee," he said. "We believe option 7 is the best for the town."

He said it was not the committee's charge to delve into the financing for the project and that aspect of the project was left to the Finance Department.

Walsh said he would like the committee to reconsider including lockers in the project. "I'd like everybody to be on the same page," he said.