2014-01-24 / Front Page

Pavilion discussions continue

Town manager: 35 to 40 days needed to bridge funding gap
By Alex Acquisto
Staff Writer

KENNEBUNK — A second reading that outlines plans for the construction of an ice rink and pavilion was approved by the board of selectmen.

The lot at 51 Main St., which was previously occupied by a Mobil gas station, was purchased by the town in 2010 through a Brownfields grant. The total estimated cost of the proposed building and ice rink is $729,000, and will be funded in part by private donations, said Town Manger Barry Tibbetts at the meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 14.

The central location of the lot lends itself to housing farmers markets, town festivals, 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. It is unclear how much of the endowment, if any, would cover the operating cost of the rink and structure. The anticipated annual advertising revenues would be approximately $7,000 to $8,100.

Approximately $315,000 has been contributed by residents and local businesses, Tibbetts reported. The town has provided $21,000 for the chillers. When factoring in other costs – such as purchasing pumps and ice-matting tools ($70,000), and compensating craftsman and vendors ($80,000) – there is a $242,000 gap in funding.

“I think from what I’ve seen, and the conversations that I’ve had around the community, I think that funding gap can be met,” Tibbetts said. “I think we just need more time.”

Thirty-five to 40 days was suggested as the time needed to bridge the amount.

Tibbetts suggested that perhaps $60,000 in contingency funds from the Route 1 North/Downtown TIF could be set aside for the project.

“So, Barry you’re saying that by the 11th, you’re confi- dent that you can raise the $242,000 additionally?” asked Selectman David Spofford.

“Optimistically I would say yes, but practically I think it’s going to be really close,” Tibbetts said, who mentioned a grant that he and members of the Waterhouse board of directors are seeking.

“OK, but let’s say that, by the 11th that hasn’t come to fruition, what this motion would say is, that until we get that money that this project wouldn’t go forward any further?” asked Spofford.

“Yes,” Tibbetts said. Before any other decisions are made, Tibbetts said, plans will be presented to the selectmen.

Said Selectman Dick Morin: “I treat this like giving someone a puppy or a cat for Christmas, you know? You got to feed it, you got to walk it, you got to take it out, you got to take it to the vet, and you just don’t know how much that’s going to cost.”

“I’m extremely reluctant. I know what the endowment’s going to generate for us. But there are inherent contingent obligations that we have not accounted for,” Morin said. “And after lecturing for an hour about a careless vote on Tuesday and a school that has taken us to the max, I just have a hard time standing behind this. Not that I don’t like kitties or puppies, I just don’t want to get one for Christmas,” Morin said.

Spofford also expressed his hesitancy toward the project before then stating, “But you know, since we tore down that Mobil station we’ve tried putting a structure on that property and I’ve come down to the realization that ... we’re going to have to do something with that, possibly similar to this.”

“I’ve been pulling both ways,” Spofford said, adding that he is shocked by the amount of money that is being donated by residents. “I’ve been flabbergasted. A $10,000 check came in today. I told him (Tibbetts) we need to send him up to the high school,” Spofford said. “If it can come down to zero dollars, then I don’t have a problem with it.”

Said Chairman Al Searles: “The fact remains you’ve already fundraised close to three quarters of the cost, well within sight of getting all of it, if you do get to the point of getting all of it – or if we do have to put in $50,000 or something like that, I mean what’s the big deal? It’s not.”

“People fail to see or fail to understand or even want to consider the fact of the economic engine it becomes for the downtown. The attraction it becomes right there in the downtown,” Searles said. “And if they think that the shops and the businesses and the residents are going to be the same as they are 30 years from now, they’re dead wrong. ... To me, this whole project is a no brainer.”

Morin was the only dissenter in the 6-1 vote to approve the second reading of Plan C (an open pavilion structure next to a 60 foot-by-90-foot ice rink) and setting aside of up to $60,000 from the Route 1 North/ Downtown TIF as a contingency.

Discussion will reconvene at the Feb. 11 meeting.

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