HOPE VALLEY — The campus at the Wood Pawcatuck Watershed Association, nestled next to the Wood River at 203 Arcadia Road, is continuing to be improved with the help of $91,915 worth of renovations.
The organization is in the third phase of a multiyear effort to update and beautify the buildings and grounds. The work began in 2001 and comes with a total price tag of $216,750.
One of the goals is to have volunteers at the facility keep it open on weekends during the summer to hand out brocheues and answer questions from visitors, kayakers and fishermen regarding the river and other recreational areas, according to Executive Director Chris Fox. Volunteers would also sell packaged snacks and drinks.
The old 30- by 24-foot garage that faces the road is getting a major facelift and will soon become an educational center and the site for volunteers during weekends in the summer. The building was previously used for the storage of kayaks, but those will be moved to the back of the parking lot next to a shed.
Large culvert pipes that were used in the Kenyon Dam removal project will be repurposed, Fox said. The black tubes will be cut, stacked and secured. The kayaks will be inserted into them and locked.
The former garage has a new roof, electrical wiring, windows and siding.
The garage door has been removed and the opening reframed for a new patio door.
The sill that was resting on a concrete slab and knee wall was rotted and eaten by termites. That was also replaced.
Replacement windows had been installed in the garage in the 1990s but the frames had rotted.
The floor in the education center has been leveled and will be tiled.
Collar ties were also installed to raise the ceiling height from that of the old rafters.
The building already has a heated, tiled bathroom in a back corner of the building that is open at all hours. That addition was part of the construction in Phase II. Initially the bathroom was going to feature a composting toilet, but the $50,000 cost and required annual maintenance seemed excessive, said Fox.
“We could spend one-third of that and have a heated bathroom,” Fox said.
A lot of the trim work on the buildings is being done with Azek, a PVC composite that is rot resistant.
Fox said he wanted to make the buildings as maintenance free as possible and still maintain an aesthetic that went along with the mission of the organization. That is why he opted for natural cedar shingles on the exterior of both buildings.
The interior of the garage, which was once divided, is now one room. It will have electric baseboard heating, but Fox does not anticipate it will get a lot of use during the winter.
The heat will only come into play at each end of the summer season.
Denise Poyer, WPWA’s program director, said that opening up the old garage into one room was necessary to get enough room for various activities. One of the first uses might be an upcoming fly tying class and workshops for teachers, she said.
Other uses for the space include kayak training classes, a map and compass workshop, various recreational programs and a place to greet students when they visit the campus.
Work on the main building includes a new roof, siding, work on a deck and renovations inside, including new flooring in the conference room and other cosmetic changes.
Boisclair Building Concepts is performing the work in Phase III and is expected to complete the projects by the beginning of March, with some finish work left on the education center that should be completed by the opening of trout fishing season in April. Fox is hoping that the organization can hold its annual meeting at the site in May and hold a ribbon cutting ceremony.
Phase I of construction included drilling a new well and installation of a septic system in the front of the lot. A rental building on the property was also demolished. This work cost $67,735.
Phase II included revamping the parking at the site with natural materials to limit runoff into the river, landscaping and construction of the bathroom in what is now the education center. This phase cost $67,000.
Funding for the projects came from the Champlin Foundation, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s sport fish access program, private donors and the watershed association itself.