The Block Island Times

Beach Pavilion closed Memorial Day weekend

By Lars Trodson | May 25, 2013
Photo by: Kari Curtis The beach side of the Fred Benson Beach Pavilion is shown in this May 23 photo.

Bad weather and other factors continue to take their toll on The Fred Benson Beach Pavilion: it will not be open during Memorial Day weekend.

Lifeguards will be on duty, the town beach manager will be on-site, and visitors to the beach will have the use of portable restrooms, Town Manager Nancy Dodge informed the Tourism Council this week. But the concession stand and the public restrooms will not be open. Yellow caution tape will surround the building to let visitors know they should not venture into the structure.

Dodge said a variety of factors impacted the tempo of the repairs to the 23-year old building.

Dodge said that the town did not receive any bids from an island-based contractor for the repair work and the contract was eventually awarded to a firm from the mainland. That company won’t be on site until Tuesday, May 28, and Dodge said the progress will be monitored to see when the pavilion will be ready for the public.

Block Island Chamber of Commerce Director Kathy Szabo also pointed out that there were no rails on the stairways or handicapped ramps.

The state of readiness of the building was a topic of conversation at this week’s Tourism Council meeting. When apprised of the situation, member John Cullen called it “unfortunate. It doesn’t seem as though this facility is a priority.”

It was suggested that signage be placed at the pavilion asking people not to go into the building and to be patient while the repairs are underway.

“People are going to go up there. To just hang yellow caution tape up, I don’t think that’s going to be enough,” said Cullen.

Dodge said that dealing with various organizations, such as the Federal Emergency Management Administration and the insurance companies has also slowed the repair process. The bid for the repairs could not be issued until the town had the funds, said Dodge. “The process took a long, long time with a lot of individuals,” said Dodge.

She also noted the most recent storm in February, named Nemo, “did a little bit more damage than we thought.” Dodge also said that the storm blew sand under the floorboards “that had to be blown out and that took some time.”

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