FAIRFIELD — A multi-million dollar project to remove toxic soil and rebuild the foundation at Penfield Pavilion has started, though it’s later than expected.
Chief Administrative Officer Tom Bremer confirmed the first phase of the project began with “hot spot removal” targeting contaminated soil tied to the town’s illegal dumping scandal, though he did not say when the work started. Bremer said the soil removal should wrap up by around Thanksgiving. He said the entire project should take about 12 to 15 months, placing the venue offline next summer before a likely 2025 reopening.
He said he expects the reconstruction of the building’s foundation, which is out of compliance with Federal Emergency Management Agency regulations, to start by Dec. 1 — nearly three months after the September target he’d been eyeing this summer.
“We’re a little bit behind,” Bremer said at a Board of Finance meeting earlier this month. “I’m pushing as hard as I can to do it as quick as I can.”
As of September, Penfield Pavilion was among the four locations with remediation pending completion out of the 42 total contaminated sites. Bremer said the removal would target eight spots around the building and parking lot before construction crews start breaking down the pavilions’ decks to access the foundation.
“We don’t want to have a whole bunch of construction people coming on site that have to wear hazmat suits and stuff like that,” he said.
The construction phase that will follow hotspot removal will address the building’s foundation to resolve a FEMA violation and renovate the building’s interior.
Bremer said the town has altered the project design for the foundation repair, opting to place the building on top of more vertical pilings wedged into the ground instead of the crossbeams they planned to lower from their existing height in the building’s foundation. Bremer said engineers realized a storm could cause the horizontal beams to snap onto the timber piling. He said FEMA is “comfortable” with the design change.
Bremer said the town has cemented an insurance policy, which generated cost concerns in July.
He said final costs for the construction should be ready by the next Board of Selectmen meeting. He said an electrical subcontractor bid around $1.2 million or $1.3 million. The town budgeted $10.5 million for the entire project earlier this year, including $5 million for toxic soil removal, $3 million for grade beam work and $3.5 million for construction.
He added that all numbers remain estimates, subject to change as the project progresses.
“I can tell you unequivocally that we may in fact find things that we didn’t expect because that’s been my experience,” he said at a Board of Selectmen meeting earlier this month. “It doesn’t happen often, but it does happen. And so in that sense, although we are all going to take some comfort in the numbers that we will all have in the near term, I only want to reiterate that we could take some comfort from it, but until we really start digging and really get our feet wet into what we have, I don’t take that much comfort in it at all.”