2013-12-06 / Front Page

Pavilion models provided

By Alex Acquisto
Staff Writer

KENNEBUNK — Three structural models for the multi-function, four-season pavilion at 51 Main St. were presented to the board of selectmen last Tuesday.

Town Manager Barry Tibbetts provided facts and figures regarding the structure, the idea of which was spurred by a $1.5 million endowment by Kennebunk resident Geraldine Waterhouse in September.

The endowment would fund youth and family activities, namely ice skating, as Waterhouse said she has many fond memories of ice skating in downtown Kennebunk during her youth.

Waterhouse’s intention, said Tibbetts, who read from a written statement composed by Waterhouse in September, is to “enhance the lives of local and non-local youth alike by providing recreational and educational opportunities in a safe and healthy environment in the downtown.”

The lot at 51 Main St. was purchased by the town in 2010. The central location of the lot lends itself to housing farmers markets, town festival activities, craft fairs and an ice skating rink. Waterhouse’s donation is expected to provide $60,000 to $75,000 annually to fund youth activities, namely ice skating. Leftover funds could be allocated into other approved areas, such as maintenance. The current cost to maintain a park or facility in Kennebunk is $9,000 annually, Tibbetts said.

The intent is to install a 60-by-90-foot ice rink covered by an open 90-by-120-foot multi-season pavilion with cathedral ceilings approximately 23 feet high.

“The challenge was to see if we could develop a four-season facility designed in a unique way,” Tibbetts said.

In the summer, the ice rink would be transformed into a roller-skating rink. Other seasonal activities would take place within the structure, such as farmers markets or holiday activities.

The highest estimated cost of construction for the pavilion is $625,000, and the town is still in need of approximately $330,000 to $370,000 to meet that sum, Tibbetts said.

Three different architectural models were presented at the Nov. 26 meeting, but not discussed in detail. Options A and B are more expensive, Tibbetts said.

Pavilion options A and B have more ornate fa├žades than option C and option C would require the least amount of brick and is more triangular. All three options would house storage rooms and public restrooms. The rink’s ice chillers would be located on the roof in the back of the structure.

“The goal in this is to really try and do option C, and I believe it can be done, with no increase in the mil rate,” Tibbetts said.

The board of the Waterhouse Youth Endowment has, so far, solicited cash donations totaling approximately $110,000 from local businesses and residents.

Myriad local businesses, in addition to donating money, have volunteered their time, services, or materials, in areas such as architectural, landscaping, and electrical.

The installment of the rink and pavilion said Tibbetts, would generate revenue for the town, from advertising to assist in offsetting maintenance costs. The sum generated from similar-sized regional ice-skating rinks, Tibbetts said, is between $6,900 and $8,100 per year.

The design for the downtown pavilion and four-season family facility would require approval from residents in mid-January.

Tentative construction would begin in March or April with an anticipated unveiling during Old Home Week in July.

“This is taking on a life of its own, and I’m in save-a-buck-mode tonight, so bear with me,” said Selectman Dick Morin. “It’s not just enough to save an increase or not to have an increase in the mil rate ... you could make me feel a lot happier if you would demonstrate, somewhere, that there was a corresponding reduction maybe in the tax paid recreational programs. ... I would like to see that if that is, at all, a possibility in the equation as you put it together, going forward.”

“OK, we’ve got a $1.5 million endowment for ice skating. How would we do if we move forward with the ice skating rink and put this whole pavilion covering on hold?” said Selectman John Kotsonis. “We don’t have to do this right away, we can sit on this and continue to raise funds for another year. I think I’d be able to stomach this a lot better if I can look at this, with a straight face, and say ‘I’m not using taxpayer money,’” Kotsonis said.

“I pretty much made up my mind awhile ago that we should have a pavilion there, because I can see the economic benefit of it,” said Chairman Al Searles. “And, then, the benefit to the downtown and the surrounding area, as the years progress. How we pay for it is a major concern,” Searles said. “It comes with a lot of caveats. It comes with the caveat of the renovation request that the RSU is making — that’s a lot of money.”

Searles continued, saying, “And when people look at that and they look at us building this, you get the ‘Well, how can you do that? When you’re complaining about this, how can you turn around and do that?’ And to me, it’s more a relation of not only where the funds come from to accomplish something, but what’s the benefit to the overall town as far as increasing the tax base or making a better business environment?” To me it’s apples and oranges — one has nothing to do with the other.”

The board of selectmen would need to approve the project by the second week in January.

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