After nearly a decade of discussions, Middletown residents will vote on a bond referendum to construct a new pavilion at . First proposed by Councilor Chris Semonelli, the council unanimously voted to approve the motion during Monday night’s regular council meeting.
According to town administrator Shawn Brown, the estimated cost would be around $4.5 million. The individual property tax rate would increase around .14 cents, from $13.73 to $13.87. For a house valued at $290,000, that would translate into a $41 increase. For a commercial property valued at $676,000, it would increase taxes by $96.
John Bagwill, Director of Easton’s Point Association, said the board of directors also voted unanimously to support the referendum early that day.
“Let the public decide,” said Bagwill.
Rian Wilkinson, chair of Middletown’s Beach Commission said that when the same subject came up for vote in 2008, it was a "blessing in disguise" that it was not approved, since that was right before the economy took a sharp turn for the worse.
Last November, the commission recommended the town build the pavilion with an attached events deck, per the recommendation of the architectural firm RKG Associates, which was hired by the town to conduct a feasibility study. The other option outlined was to build a beach pavilion as well as an event’s pavilion, similar to Easton’s Beach in Newport.
Despite that the economy is still rocky, Wilkinson said the time to build is now. He pointed out that the town could take advantage of the low interest rates and low cost of materials to keep costs under control. He also said that the construction of the building would provide jobs.
“There is never a right time” agreed David P. Leys, vice chair of the Beach Commission. “You have to just go ahead and bite the bullet."
Leys also pointed out with the City of Newport’s recent improvements to Easton’s Beach such as the UV Treatment Plant and the Seaweed Eater, the competition for beach goers might get tough.
Councilor Richard Cambra said that while he is fiscally conservative, the problem is not going to go away on its own.
“The building is not going to get any better,” said Cambra.
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