GALVESTON — Apffel Park’s new $1.6 million pavilion is expected to open in January, more than four years after its original pavilion was destroyed by Hurricane Ike.
Last week, workers began adding wooden framing around the concrete pylons standing near the entrance to East Beach. When completed, the frame will become the pavilion’s new boardwalk and will finish off the rebuilding on a beach that sustained more than $2 million of damage during Ike.
The project is being paid for mostly with federal funds, said Galveston Park Board of Trustees Executive Director Kelly de Schaun. FEMA is funding 90 percent of the project, while the remaining 10 percent comes from park board funds.
Since Ike, East Beach has gone without the amenities that were present before the storm. Since the storm, the park board has run its operations on the beach out of a trailer, and the only amenities for visitors were portable toilets.
The beach has parking space for around 7,000 cars.
The new pavilion is taller than its predecessor but has a smaller overall footprint, said de Schaun. Its upper level will have bathrooms, showers and concession stands. Down below will be the boardwalk, drive-up spaces for food trucks and a stage. De Schaun said the board is in the process of choosing an event coordinator that will help bring musical acts to the beach.
The building of the pavilion was not without delays. The board originally took bids in January, with the goal of completing the project by June. But after choosing an off-island firm to build a pavilion, de Schaun said contractors became concerned over the types of materials that were to be used and how they would withstand the island’s climate.
The board ultimately chose to delay the project and ask for another round of bids with new specifications, which delayed construction by about six months.
“The building that we are now going to construct is built for this type of environment and will have a longer life and have fewer maintenance issues with it,” de Schaun said. “It was a traumatic process, but the end product was good.”
De Schaun said the second plan cost less than the original one from January.
The completion of the Apffel Pavilion is a “relief” to the park board, said chairman Craig Brown.
“This pavilion signifies more than just a structure on our beach going up,” Brown said. “This is the beginning of a movement.
“We’re starting a new philosophy of being more proactive.”
The board’s leaders said they see the Apffel pavilion as the beginning of a series of upcoming projects, which includes a $200,000 renovation of the 30-year-old Stewart Beach pavilion and the reopening of facilities on the West End pocket parks, which have been closed since Ike.
Several other improvements will be made, including the creation of a dune line along the seawall and new signs to help with both navigation and rule enforcement.