Penfield planners revert to first repair plan amid reimbursement concerns
The Penfield Building Committee wants to go back to its original repair plans for the beachfront facility, shuttered since being damaged by Superstorm Sandy in October 2012.
In a sense-of-the-body resolution, the committee voiced support Thursday for a rebuilt pavilion without an east wing of lockers. That was its original recommendation to reopen the structure, but when it sought funding, the Board of Finance asked it to reconsider restoring lockers to the proposal.
The committee learned recently that the Federal Emergency Management Agency has ruled the building is more than 50 percent damaged and eligible for 75 percent reimbursement of the construction costs of a new building. That news left the committee to consider whether it would be better financially to demolish the entire pavilion and rebuild a new one, estimated at a cost of approximately $11 million.
Bids for the approved plan to demolish the east wing, move the west wing into the parking lot while the foundation is rebuilt then move it back and build a new locker wing initially came in $1.3 million over the $6 million budget. Shawmut Design came up with proposed cuts to that particular design, including elimination of a stone revetment — a measure designed to limit flood damage — to bring the cost overruns down to a projected $193,656.
However, questions also arose over how much of a FEMA reimbursement the town would receive, if the project is not considered by the agency to be a one-to-one replacement.
Committee member David Zieff said the panel was charged with constructing a new pavilion within a $6 million budget, and said they should be focused on that.
“We can’t build a building with lockers,” Chairman James Bradley said.
“Then we go back and explain, ‘You can’t have the lockers,’ ” Zieff said. “We go back and say this is the one we can build for under $6 million and if FEMA doesn’t treat us right, they’ll have to understand that. We did what we were charged to do.”
The estimate for a project that eliminates the locker wing, and instead adds changing rooms, is $5.4 million. That estimate was created using figures from the bids, and includes enhancements such as the stone revetment.
Building committee members also decided to check with the town’s bond counsel to see if the approved bonding can be applied to the latest version of the reconstruction project, or whether the full complement of approvals from other town boards will be required.
Committee member Ellery Plotkin, who used to be a Parks and Recreation Commission member, recalled that when the pavilion was rebuilt a few years ago, officials considered eliminating the lockers entirely, but residents complained. It was rebuilt with fewer lockers and just as people got used to having the larger number of lockers, he said they got used to having just one wing of lockers. “Now that we haven’t had lockers, I don’t think people are screaming anymore, ” he added.
Another committee member, Stephen Pitaniello, said the committee is not charged with finding the sources of funding and it is the town administration that needs to deal with FEMA,
“We can’t completely ignore that factor,” committee member Andrew Graceffa said, and suggested the town needs to provide the committee with the financial analysis of an option without lockers compared to a complete rebuild.
The committee agreed to ask the town for that analysis which takes into account any FEMA reimbursement.
“Once you step away from a one-to-one replacement, it is a repair,” Bradley said, and “all bets are off” as to how much of a FEMA reimbursement would be available for such a project.
The committee will also seek something in writing from FEMA regarding the 50 percent ruling and reimbursement.
Committee member Ian Bass said to consider building an $11 million facility on the beach is an “exercise in insanity,” and while the town has received promises of FEMA funding, it has nothing in writing from the federal agency.
Fairfield Beach Road resident Paige Herman said she was happy the committee supports the original project, without the lockers. “I look forward to you being able to move forward,” she said.
Flood and Erosion Control Board member Richard Dmochowski said he was glad the committee was not considering eliminating the revetment.