Town applies for $300,000 grant
The Town of New Shoreham has applied for a $300,000 Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management Recreation Development Grant to fund renovations of the Fred Benson Beach Pavilion.
The need for the extra monies was borne out of a funding gap when bids in the previous bids came in at, or just under $1 million. The project at the time was budgeted at $600,000 and the lowest bid that came in late last year was just over $922,000, creating the $300,000 difference.
Despite the fact that the cost of the project has been adjusted slightly downward, town officials decided to still apply for the additional funds. Town officials were not clear on how the funding, if indeed it is awarded, will be used. The funds can be used to offset the cost, or to expand the project’s scope.
Lincoln-based Mill City Construction, which won the bid at $843,585, is conducting the renovations. The town has $940,000 available to pay for the renovations with $140,000 in contingency. So, the question is, if the town receives the $300,000 grant, will that money go towards reducing the cost to the bid amount, or increase it to over one million dollars and expand the project’s plans.
“This grant, if we do get it, would be awarded in the spring,” said Interim Town Manager Gobern. “It would help us offset the cost of the renovations of the Beach Pavilion. We would be able to use these funds retroactively.”
In the same breath, Gobern said the “extra money” could also allow the town to do a few things not included in the project’s current plans, like expansion of the parking lot, and putting solar panels on the pavilion’s roof.
At a Town Council meeting in January, Finance Director Amy Land said the project was funded by a $350,000 bond approved at a Financial Town Meeting in 2014, a $240,000 DEM Recreation Development Grant awarded in October of 2016, and additional “local borrowing of $350,000 authorized at the May 1, 2017 FTM,” bringing the total project budget to $940,000.
During the New Shoreham Town Council’s Nov. 1 meeting, the Council unanimously authorized submission of the grant application. Gobern said the deadline for submission of the application is Dec. 1, 2017.
In response to the application, former First Warden Kim Gaffett remarked that, “The money is growing, but the project isn’t.” Gaffett said, “Just for clarification, this is an additional $300,000 to add to the $940,000 that you already committed to this project. Is that right?”
“Yes,” said Gobern.
“Sam’s on vacation, so we can’t provide you with any of the details,” said First Warden Ken Lacoste. Facilities Manager Sam Bird later told The Times that he wasn’t at the meeting so he “can’t speak to the discussion. Allocation of that funding would be a question for the Town Manager and/or the Town Council.”
Gaffett said she wanted to bring up the cost of the renovations, because “the building is very susceptible.” She noted that adding $300,000 would put the budget up “over a million dollars.”
Councilor Chris Willi rehashed the funding numbers for Gaffett, and said, “I’m not reviewing this as an additional $300,000 to the project. I thought this was to offset the existing cost.”
“That’s how I understand it,” said Councilor Martha Ball, who noted that construction was underway on the project. Ball stressed that the sand that has collected under the pavilion needs to be removed. “The ocean can’t come through right now, and if the ocean can’t come through there’s going to be a problem.”