Dunkirk Lighthouse plans new pavilion

Dunkirk Lighthouse volunteer David Briska speaks at a Dunkirk Planning Board meeting.

The Dunkirk Lighthouse and Veterans Museum wants to erect a new pavilion, but the city Planning Board demanded changes to the plan last month.

The 30- by 60-foot structure needs more design elements on its exterior than is currently planned, board members agreed at their monthly meeting.

Lighthouse representative David Briska said the non-profit, all-volunteer organization wants to build the pavilion next to its existing gift shop as “a money maker to become a little more self-sufficient.”

There’s no permanent place on the property right now to hold a party. The lighthouse does rent its grounds for events, but tents are used for them. Briska said they have “lucked out” with good weather on eight weddings scheduled so far this year, but a pavilion is necessary long-term.

He said the lack of a permanent covered area for people to sit was a main sticking point in trying to rent the property out for functions. Asked about tents, he said, “For a single night, it’s not bad. But you can’t keep them up for long periods of time.”

OBSERVER Photos by M.J. Stafford The Dunkirk Lighthouse wants to build a pavilion.

Glenn Christner, Dunkirk’s code enforcement officer, said the state’s historic preservation office will not need to make an assessment of the project, as it won’t involve public money. Briska noted he and other lighthouse representatives would be going to the city Zoning Board’s meeting to get a variance for the project, as the size of the building is larger than allowed. That board wound up approving the variance.

However, the planning board held back its own approval — because as designed, the pavilion is basically a large, generic shed. The board tabled the matter so design elements can get added, but agreed to call a special meeting in the next couple weeks so the lighthouse can get the structure built before the end of the events season in October.

Board member Ed Schober, a longtime architect, said he was “particularly concerned it doesn’t fit in.” Chris Piede, another board members, said the proposed pavilion didn’t look “rustic” enough and should have more of a nautical theme.

“We’re trying to keep the costs down so we can actually do it,” Briska said, later adding, “I guess we were trying to keep it basic to deal with the weather, partly.”

“It looks like something you’d see at the county fairgrounds,” Schober said. He said he would oppose approval of the project until seeing changes to the exterior.

Briska agreed to work with the contractor planning the project and resubmit drawings as soon possible.

The main change discussed at the planning board meeting was the addition of brick pillars to the front entrance, in order to visually tie the structure in with the lighthouse.


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