The Orchard Beach Bathhouse and Pavilion, which was landmarked by the city in 2006, is still in the middle of a $3.3 million restoration project undertaken by the Parks department which has dragged on for more than a year and a half.
There is concern that the ongoing closure of the arcade area in the pavilion, that had a number food concessions and a beach shop, will inconvenience Orchard Beach visitors this summer.
John Bonizio, of Metro Optics in Westchester Square, expressed his concern that the recession will make the closure even more unbearable.
“In the middle of the recession, many people will be going to Orchard Beach,” Bonizio said. “The Fourth of July is on a weekend this year. There are going to be a lot of people at the beach and few concessions.”
Bonizio added that the small businesspeople that operated the concessions at the pavilion and rely on the foot traffic at the beach to make a living between Memorial and Labor days would be hurt financially by the stalled project.
The renovation of the bathhouse and pavilion began in the fall of 2007. At the time, Parks officials were hoping to broaden the use of the public space, possibly opening a cloth-table restaurant or a museum related to the historic construction of Orchard Beach during the Great Depression.
Now, with Memorial Day already past, for the first time in recent memory the concessions in the arcade area at the center of the pavilion have not opened and scaffolding still towers over the site.
Parks has given no clear indication as to when the construction will be complete. According to sources, the delay is related to structural issues.
Ironically, this part of the 50-foot-wide Orchard Beach Bathhouse and Pavilion containing the arcade was renovated just a few years ago, according to Parks.
“In 2005, the lower brick arcade of the Orchard Beach pavilion was restored,” said Jesslyn Moser, Parks spokeswoman. “We are currently exploring alternatives to the pavilion.”
As part of those alternatives the Parks Department has decided to increase the number of concessionaires on the boardwalk itself to pick up some of the slack from the missing concessions at the pavilion.
“While the main pavilion at Orchard Beach is closed, Parks has worked with concessionaires to ensure that there is food service each day of the summer season at Orchard Beach,” stated Parks spokeswoman Meghan Lalor. “[On the weekend of June 6 and 7] there were nine carts, three trucks, and a snack bar open.”