Newsletter,  Uncategorized

FRA Clubhouse Status

Dear FRA members,

Since our last communication in December 2022, The Board of Directors (BOD) has been collecting additional information regarding the status of the Fortunes Rocks Association clubhouse.

Most importantly — the initial opinion, obtained after meeting with the Biddeford Code Enforcement officer was incomplete. A meeting with a land use consultant revealed that the entire property sits in a sand dunes and erosion hazard zone.  Furthermore, there is the possibility that the flood zone will be increased sometime in 2023 and will encompass the entire FRA property. This opinion was subsequently confirmed by the city Code Enforcement Officer.  Attached to this letter are the survey result as well as the report provided by the land use consultant (Mike Morse of Archipelago).

In May of 2022 the property was examined by a structural engineer (Steven Grant of SRG Engineering), who advised us that the building appeared suitable for occupancy and use in 2022 but that it be repaired prior to use in 2023 (see attached letter).  Our current property and liability insurance agent advised that, without some further action, use of the clubhouse in 2023 should be restricted for all inside activities including socials, meetings and other uses except for storage of materials.  This opinion was supported during review of the structure by Scott Simons, Owner of Simons Architecture in Portland.   Hence we are not planning to hold any events inside or on the deck of the clubhouse until further notice.  We have already arranged for the BOD and General Membership meetings to be held at the Biddeford Pool Fire Barn.  In addition, while we can hold our Socials outside on the lawn and in the north side of the parking lot, we are also considering other options for holding the Socials.

Based upon the information we now have, the BOD has determined that we should consider and decide upon one of the following 3 options:

a) Minimal repair that would not require permitting by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) or the Biddeford Planning Board. This would involve placing support cribbing at each of the corners of the building and under the deck.  This needs to be done for less than $5700, which is 50% of the assessed value of the building.  This is likely to be a temporary solution and would also require some review by a structural engineer to ensure that the building is safe for occupancy.  The BOD does not recommend this option as it is temporary and would cost as much as $4000 before the Structural Engineering fees.

b) Elevate and repair the existing structureby installing a pier-based foundation that would meet the requirements of the DEP and City of Biddeford to be at least 3 ft above grade (this DEP and Biddeford permitting is required if the plan to repair exceeds 50% of the assessed value).  Note that this elevation would likely require an additional 2-3 steps to enter.  This option could be done on the existing footprint or on relocated site to have the entire structure outside of the current flood zone (note the flood zone location on the survey document).

Because the Sand Dunes/Erosion Hazard Zone encompasses the entire property and has similar requirements to the Flood Zone, there would seem to be little gained by relocating the building.  Elevating the building could also include removal of the existing deck (which is close to end of useful and safe life) and replacing either with new decking or with a grade level patio (cement or pavers).  Window replacement and other repairs could also be done at this time.  Cost estimate for this would range from >$45,000 to $70,000 or more depending on the scope.

c) Demolish the existing structure and rebuild, potentially following the design created last summer.  This would require pier-based foundation at least 3 ft above grade.  This plan could include a grade level patio with awning or with 2ndstory deck.  The cost estimate for this is roughly $150,000.  The building location could be moved (as in option b above, same considerations) or stay in same location.

It is worth noting that there are multiple variables that remain uncertain in each of these scenarios.  Some of these (perhaps most important is permit approval) can only be evaluated and addressed by pursuing a specific solution.  Other unknowns (including cost, design, financing and other issues) can be determined once we have decided which option to pursue.

Hence, we cannot proceed further without a clear direction from the membership.  To accomplish this we propose the following plan:

  1. In this letter we have provided all of the information we have collected.  We would ask that all members review this information, consider the 3 options and provide comment or questions to the BOD by end of day Friday May 12. These should be sent to the FRA email address:
  2. Questions and comments will be assembled and answers provided in a separate mailing and on the website by May 19.
  3. A vote to identify the majority opinion on which option to pursue. A ballot containing all three options outlined above will be sent to each email address in our membership list.
    Each membership should complete one ballot that ranks the priority order of all 3 options (if you like option b most and option c worst you would vote 1) b, 2) a and 3) c.
    In order to ensure a fair vote, each membership (single or family) should print the ballot, complete as described above, and send it by regular mail to: Martha Mitchell at the FRA official mailing address, PO Box 318, Biddeford Pool, ME 04006. The majority opinion will be determined using ranked choice if a majority is not achieved with the initial #1 selection. We anticipate that this process will be completed prior to the General Membership meeting to be scheduled on June 24, 2023.

Finally, we want to address the issue of the donations solicited and received during the summer of 2022.  We have incurred multiple expenses related to the clubhouse building concerns.  These include the fees for the structural engineer’s review, the rendering of a possible new building, the property survey, and fees for the land use consultant. All these expenses have been paid from a separate account funded by the donations we received over last summer.  I want to ensure those who donated that your gifts are being utilized solely for activities related to the resolution of the clubhouse structure.

I realize that we are in a challenging situation and that the future remains to be determined.  I appreciate and look forward to your continued participation in the process.

Tom Hamilton

Provide comment or questions to the BOD by end of day Friday May 12. FRA email address: