Penfield Pavilion, a favorite shoreline spot of Fairfielders, has survived the toughest of storms. On Monday, however, the town-owned pavilion was clearly losing a battle with an excavator machine equipped with a grapple.

"It's sad," said Smith Street resident Mike Lauterborn, who was informed of the demolition work by his 10-year-old son Phillip. "It's kind of like a little bit of our past is getting erased."

The west wing and center sections of Penfield Pavilion are being demolished to make way for a $3.2 million upgrade. The 109-year-old building wasn't looking very robust. Lauterborn hated to see a place he frequented so often with his youngest child get machine-handled like it was Monday, but admitted "it was getting pretty weathered and worn."

He asked a worker for the sign above the snack bar advertising the ice cream, but it was a no-go. The sign was nailed into the building. Demo work was halted around 4:30 p.m., but continued Tuesday. Workers have been finding a significant amount of coins in the sand once covered by the pavilion deck, but "no bodies yet," according to a worker who did not want to give his name.

Steve Lehning, a coordinator of the project, said all of the paperwork "is behind us," all of the glass from the building was removed and all of the environmental issues addressed. Workers regularly hosed down the demo area, the demolition bins and the building, he said, to keep dust from overwhelming the site.

Despite the demolition job, people can still frequent Penfield Beach, though half of the parking area is taken up by construction equipment.

Once the west wing and center sections are completely demolished, the next step will be to remove the sand in that area for installation of new footings for the rebuilt pavilion.

"We should have it leveled within the next three days," said Lehning. Those three days, he said, will require a "train of dumpsters" before the site is cleared.