Windermere Town Council members have approved an agreement with the Rotary Club of Windermere regarding plans for a new outdoor entertainment pavilion.
During their May 11 meeting, council members heard from Rotary members and residents as they discussed the agreement.
Last summer, town leaders approved the pavilion’s concept plan, which included a functional stage space for events, a three-sided pavilion, a concession stand and storage. The West Orange Healthcare District awarded the Rotary Club a $1 million grant to fund the construction of the pavilion, which will be located in Windermere’s town square.
The agreement between the Rotary Club and the town of Windermere lays out conditions negotiated between town staff and West Orange Healthcare District board members.
Such conditions include both parties mutually agreeing on a project manager; holding two workshops for public input on design; a requirement to have Town Council approve the design at the 45% and 100% design phases; and allowing the Rotary Club to display its crest on the building. Additionally, the Rotary Club would have exclusive rights to concessions for Healthy West Orange and Rotary events only.
Rotary member George Poelker said the idea for a pavilion began a few years ago, as the club’s 50th anniversary was coming up. Rotary members thought it would be a nice gift to the town in honor of that anniversary.
“There is still lots of room for public input, and we welcome that,” Poelker said. “We want to give the town what the town wants — that’s our overhead goal. For 52, years, we’ve been in Windermere making Windermere a better, more fun place to live, and we want to continue that for the next 50 years or more. That’s our goal.”
Poelker said for the last few years, the main issue regarding the project was finding funding. However, receiving the grant from the West Orange Healthcare District’s Healthy West Orange initiative makes it possible.
Resident Nora Brophy said she liked the idea of having a pavilion in the town square but was worried about the project’s footprint, as well as branding.
“It’d be wonderful to have a pavilion here,” said Brophy, who also serves as chair of the town’s Parks and Recreation Committee. “Initially, I thought this was just a pavilion, and then when I read this proposal, it seems like it’s morphed into the whole Town Hall area. … The big events like Pet Fest and Run Among the Lakes, we use every inch of that space out there. If that is turned into a park, we won’t be able to have those big events, so it would be kind of a shame to build the pavilion to have these events and then cancel the big events because we don’t have enough room for them.”
Mayor Jim O’Brien reminded those in attendance that although the concept is in place, the opportunity for further public input remains.
“Just because of what we’re working on tonight doesn’t negate all of those workshops and the opportunity for the public (input) and branding as well — sizing, colors,” O’Brien said. “We want to be as reasonable as we can. … These are certainly things we’re thinking about, as well.”
Poelker added the branding is “very minimal” and there won’t be a name plastered across the front of the pavilion. Rather, the conceptual plan calls for two emblems — one for Healthy West Orange and one for the Rotary Club.
“There’s lots of little details that need to be worked out still, and that’s fine and we know that,” he said. “(We’re focused on) building a useful, beautiful facility for all of the town to use.”