First Selectman Mike Tetreau announced today that after months of careful documentation, inspections, engineering reports and review, the Town of Fairfield has been told by officials from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) that Penfield Pavilion, which was damaged as a result of Superstorm Sandy, is eligible for full replacement. First Selectman Tetreau said, “This positive news paves the way for funding of the full replacement of the facility, including steps to protect the structure from similar damage in the future.”
FEMA originally determined Penfield Pavilion to be eligible only for repair, but the Town and its consulting firm, Witt O’Brien’s, disagreed. The Town maintained that the structural integrity of the building had been so severely compromised and that the damage to the supporting pilings was so extensive that it was eligible for full replacement under FEMA’s Public Assistance Grant Program eligibility rules. Based on the opinion of the Town’s consultants and with the full support and help of 4th District Congressman Jim Himes (D) and the State of Connecticut’s Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection, Division of Emergency Management and Homeland Security, the Town began the long, complicated process of convincing FEMA that the damage to Penfield exceeded 50% of its replacement value.
First Selectman Tetreau stated, “This has not been an easy process, but with the help and cooperation of all parties involved, this part of the process has been brought to a successful conclusion. Our goal has been to secure the maximum amount of eligible disaster assistance funding for the Town of Fairfield within FEMA guidelines.”
First Selectman Tetreau credited this successful outcome to team members from the offices of Congressman Himes and Senators Blumenthal and Murphy, along with the State of Connecticut, FEMA Region I and its consultants, CFO Robert Mayer and Fairfield’s Director of Public Works Joseph Michelangelo, praising them for their dedication, optimism and perseverance. “This team of town, state and federal partners never gave up. They worked hard to build an iron-clad case on behalf of the citizens of Fairfield,” said First Selectman Tetreau.
“When Sandy hit, communities were shaken and the damage was immense,” said Congressman Jim Himes who represents the 4th Congressional District which includes Fairfield. “We have been able to pull together, led by First Selectman Mike Tetreau, to work through my Congressional office and FEMA and ensure that the damage to Penfield Pavilion will be repaired and paid for in a fair way and that we will be better prepared if disaster strikes again.”
What’s the next step?
First Selectman Tetreau was quick to point out that, “Although FEMA has agreed with the Town that Penfield Pavilion is eligible for replacement, the process is far from over.” FEMA is in the process of completing the necessary documentation and writing what is called a Project Worksheet that will capture the eligible scope of work on which funding will be based. The scope of work will detail what will be eligible for funding, including the costs to comply with codes and standards and Federal Floodplain Regulations because of the location of Penfield in what is known as a V-E Zone. Those regulations dictate that the structure be protected against future loss and the associated costs of that protection as determined eligible by FEMA would be reimbursed.
After FEMA completes its documentation, the Project Worksheet will go through a series of reviews, including a review and coordination with the Town’s insurance benefits, and an environmental and historical preservation review to determine any environmental impact considerations along with considerations for historical significance. Once the review process is completed the project will move the funding obligation stage.
What does all of this mean?
- The Town of Fairfield will be eligible for the actual cost of the replacement of Penfield Pavilion to its pre-disaster design, capacity and use, in accordance with current building codes and standards.
- FEMA will contribute 75% of that cost after any applicable deductions for insurance settlements or other insurance related FEMA programmatic requirements.
- The Town of Fairfield will contribute 25% of the replacement cost, the value of its insurance settlement, and any other deductions made for insurance related FEMA programmatic requirements.
First Selectman Tetreau stated, “The bottom line is that the Town of Fairfield will receive the maximum benefit available under the FEMA disaster assistance program, and that assistance will be used to the benefit of the citizens of Fairfield in the replacement of Penfield Pavilion.”