With more FEMA money, financiers back $7.4M Penfield repair plan

Members of the Penfield Building Committee were in attendance at Tuesday's Board of Finance meeting, where their request for an additional $1.4 million in funding was approved.
Members of the Penfield Building Committee were in attendance at Tuesday's Board of Finance meeting, where their request for an additional $1.4 million in funding was approved.Genevieve Reilly / Hearst Connecticut Media

An additional $1.4 million to rebuild storm-battered Penfield Pavilion was unanimously approved Tuesday by the Board of Finance.

The money will allow the Penfield Building Committee to go forward with original plans to demolish the waterfront pavilion’s east wing of lockers, and move the structure into the parking lot while a new foundation is built. The pavilion — closed since it was damaged by Superstorm Sandy in October 2012 — will then be moved back into place and a new locker wing constructed.

“I voted for this project in January,” board member James Walsh said. “We’ve gotten through a lot. I still support this project 100 percent for the exact same reasons I supported it in January.”

The revised financing for the Penfield project still must be approved by the Representative Town Meeting.

After contemplating a series of options to repair and reopen the pavilion, the building committee and town boards agreed on what became known as “option 7A,” and $6 million was appropriated for construction.

However, bids came in $1.2 million over the approved budget earlier this year, and the committee began to look at ways to reduce costs. While that was going on, the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s reimbursement criteria were clarified and town officials recently were notified the project would be eligible for a 75 percent reimbursement rate.

Between FEMA’s reimbursement, other grants received and an insurance settlement, it had been estimated the town’s share of the original $6 million would net out to between $953,000 and $1.5 million. Now, at a cost of $7.4 million, the town’s share is estimated at $1.2 million.

“So, though the cost of this went up based on the bids, the net impact on funding is right in the middle of the funding range,” finance Chairman Thomas Flynn said.

Walsh asked if the building committee, once the FEMA reimbursement was clarified, considered tearing down the existing building and starting new.

“I believe we did,” said James Bradley, the building committee chairman. He said the cost estimate for that scenario would be about $10 million.

Fiscal Officer Robert Mayer said that constructing a completely new pavilion would mean starting the FEMA process all over, once again extending the time line for reopening the pavilion.

Bradley agreed with Walsh that “in a perfect world” constructing an entirely new pavilion would be the way to go, but given the circumstances, “I think we’re going in the right direction.”

He told the panel that the Department of Public Works has been monitoring the building to make sure its condition has not worsened. “It’s repairable,” Bradley said, adding that it is believed the structure can sustain the stress of being moved.