Some town residents may argue the town of Windermere has long had a need for a formal place to host outdoor events.
Now, the town is hoping to address that.
For years, the idea to construct an outdoor pavilion has been brought up by the Downtown Business Committee, but it never moved forward because of the unknown future location for the town’s new facilities, said Windermere Council Member Chris Sapp, who also serves as the council’s Downtown Business Committee liaison.
Now that the site for the town facilities is settled, the downtown committee and Rotary Club of Windermere hope to make some progress on the future pavilion, which would be located at the site that currently holds the town’s community center on Fifth and Forest Streets, Sapp said.
“An event pavilion of this sort has been brought up at Downtown Business Committee meetings as an idea for future projects for, I’d say, a couple of years now,” he said. “It’s kind of been kicked around, but it’s never been really heavily explored, because we didn’t know where the town facilities were going to be. A natural place for it would be where the community center is … that dilapidated building on Fifth and Forest.
“So when the council chose to build the facilities where they currently are, I brought it up again at the DBC meeting as something to move forward, and then, coincidentally enough, (Rotary Club representative) Byron (Sutton), had approached (Windermere Town Manager) Robert (Smith) about doing a project in time for the 50th anniversary of the Rotary Club,” Sapp said. “And their idea was to do a gazebo that could host some entertainment and things like that.”
Smith suggested Sapp and Sutton collaborate on the project, which is still in its infancy, Sapp said.
The pair then formed a subcommittee comprising representatives from the DBC, Rotary Club, Long Range Planning Committee, Public Works Department and a town resident to work on the logistics.
“Essentially, what we’re looking to do is make a multi-use event pavilion,” Sapp said. “It could be something someone wants to rent for an event, but more importantly, it’s to be used for a lot of the town events we have. At this point, we have to rent stages out every time we have live music. We also have to rent porta-potties every time we do an event because the community center only has two bathrooms. So this would also help us have some more toilets to use for events and, potentially, a concession stand of sorts. … It would also give us an opportunity to create other type of events, too.”
The intention is to demolish the community center, which is rarely used because it is “aged, does not meet current standards and has airborne musty odors,” according to town documents. The estimated cost of demolition and construction of the outdoor event pavilion is unknown at this stage, but it likely will be paid for using committee funds and money fundraised by the Rotary Club of Windermere, Sapp said.
During the April 9 Windermere Town Council meeting, town leaders agreed to hire Hunton Brady Architects to create a conceptual design drawing, which the firm agreed to do at no charge.
“It’s a project that the downtown business committee would be more than willing to take on,” Sapp said. “It could be something that’s handled in a couple of years or five years, we don’t know at this point. I know the Rotary Club wants to get it done in the next year or so, but we don’t know the estimated cost of it yet.”