2011-07-28 / Front Page

Multiple options for replacement pavilion presented at workshop

BY PHIL ZAHODIAKIN

The Town Council this week learned that the task of selecting a design and location for Fort Getty’s replacement pavilion will be more challenging than anyone had thought it would be. The designs presented to the councilors during a pavilion workshop all have desirable features and benefi ts. But the amount of insurance money available to build a replacement pavilion has become a major question mark.

The workshop was held on July 25. Three architects were on hand to present their ideas, but none were asked to project the costs of building their designs.

Not long before a Feb. 2 snowstorm destroyed the John C. Rembijas Pavilion, the council had agreed to spend $60,000 on truss repairs and shingles for the 30-year-old structure. The prospect of an insurance check raised hopes in some quarters that the town would add amenities to the replacement pavilion.

Shortly after the pavilion’s collapse, the town’s insurance company – the Rhode Island Interlocal Risk Management Trust – advised Department of Public Works Director Mike Gray that they would reimburse Jamestown for the entire cost of constructing an identical structure to current code. The assurance led several councilors to express their support for quickly rebuilding the pavilion on its original site – if not a little further away from the beach.

A majority of the councilors opposed the addition of costly features and amenities, such as bathrooms, to the replacement structure. Now, however, the insurance payout for even a simple replacement is in limbo.

That’s because there is a dispute arising from the phrase, “to current code,” and it’s casting a shadow over the argument for building the replacement on the original slab. If the slab needs to be reinforced, or replaced, the council could become more interested in the alternative site to the north. But the two potential locations, and the designs offered by the architects, are all so different that it will be difficult to select a clear winner from among the choices.

Gray had previously explained that the insurance company was asked to hire an engineer to design a replacement pavilion to current code. The exercise was necessary for the company to gauge the cost to build the replacement.

But the company’s re-insurance company is balking at some of the design elements, particularly the cost of rebuilding the slab with protections against the scouring action of waves in a flood.

Because the protections are required under current code for structures in flood plains, “the trust’s engineer re-designed the slab,” said Gray, “but the re-insurance company doesn’t believe that scour protection qualifies as minimal replacement.” However, without the scour protection, “We won’t be able to get a [state] building permit,” Gray said, adding, “So, that’s the discussion we need to have” with the re-insurance company.

In the meantime, the councilors will think about the relative merits and features of the design proposals on the table.

The first of the proposals discussed at the workshop had been submitted by Andrew Yates, whose design was pictured on the original slab, and whose style most closely resembles the original pavilion. One of the design options is “Dutch ends,” or openings below the opposite ends of the roof, to facilitate airflow. Yates’ ideas also provides for “park-type cooking” at one end of the structure, with a fire pit off to the side. The roof would be sheathed in metal or asphalt over a thick wooden deck supported by laminated beams.

During a later discussion on slab issues, a structural engineer who worked with Yates on his design said that “our approach to reconstructing the building was making the posts go down 8 to 10 feet, which would address scouring [risks] without using the slab as a structural element” of the design.

The second of the proposals presented to the councilors was submitted by Ronald DiMauro, whose ideas feature striking, stylistic elements such as gables and a cupola. Pictured on the original slab, the design also includes small shed dormers, which, like the cupola, would allow more light into the interior.

The roof – supported by a truss system – would be sheathed with asphalt shingles, while the gables would have cedar shingles.

Asked if he had considered siting the design on the alternative site just north of the existing slab, DiMauro said, “We thought the existing location made more sense because it would be more visible and welcoming to people entering the park. It’s a stronger location which benefits from the natural beauty at the site.”

The third group of design ideas, which had been submitted by Shahin Barzin, are all sited on the alternative site – a hill about 15 yards to the north. In his remarks about the existing site, Barzin – who said that he had attended many family functions at the Rembijas pavilion – pointed out that a swath of cleared vegetation leading to the beach “creates a wind tunnel” that funnels a “very tiring” flow of wind into the existing pavilion.

Barzin added that, unlike the minimal water views at the existing site, the hill affords a view of marshes and a cove while elevating some, or potentially all, of a replacement structure above a 7-foot flood.

The difference in the level of flood protection depends on which of the design orientations is used. One of them parallels the grade of the hill, with the front of the structure standing over the base of the hill like a deck. The front of the deck would face the road and the cove, with the back of the structure embedded in the hill. The other orientation places the structure along the base of the hill.

All of Barzin’s designs include scissor-trusses and metal roofs; stone walls along the slab; a grilling area off to the side; and a food-preparation area and a bathroom within the interior.

Previously, the idea of a bathroom seemed to be off the table. But, during the workshop, the pushback in previous discussions was replaced with questions about composting toilets and the feasibility of a septic system.

Barzin had a third, “ambitious” design, which includes a secondstory observation deck, pushing cost and complexity beyond the parameters requested by the council. The hill itself elicited more discussion, with many of the questions involving potential diffi culties with handicapped access. One councilor was worried that a hillside pavilion would block access to the annual car show. But Barzin said that any lingering concerns about the hill could be readily addressed.

The pavilion will be on the agenda for Monday’s council meeting, but it’s highly unlikely that the council will attempt to select the winning design that night. The councilors could, however, attempt to narrow down the daunting array of choices before them.

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