Pelham Summerfest committee vice-chair Frank Adamson stands at the site of the arches rebuild, holding an artistic rendition of the original arches by local painter Annette Steele. DON RICKERS

Organizers confident that fundraising efforts will hit target

Fundraising in the days of Covid-19 has been hard, especially when lockdowns are imposed.

Just ask Frank Adamson, the Fonthill Rotary Club/Summerfest Committee member leading the charge to rebuild the Fonthill Arches on the corner of Town Square and Pelham Street.

His own venture, the fitness club Kwikfit Niagara, is shut down again for at least another few weeks like many other small businesses, under the most recent set of restrictions imposed by the Ford government. But Adamson is nonetheless optimistic that the arches project will be completed in time for what is hoped will be a green-lighted Summerfest in June.

“I’m hoping that this pandemic will peter out like the Spanish Influenza, sort of mutate out of existence,” said Adamson. “It’s probably going to be like the seasonal flu, with vaccinations every fall. No big deal.”

A number of contributors have stepped up to increase their arches donations, given the enormous escalation of costs since the project was first envisioned a few years ago.

“Lucchetta Homes is doubling its contribution, plus they are providing crane services,” said Adamson. “Willowbrook Nurseries is doubling its commitment, as is Zavcor Trucking, which is also transporting the steel structures to the site. I’m doubling my Kwikfit contribution, and Fenwick engineer James Federico is donating all of his services for design and drawings, project management, and engineering expertise. And just the other day, we had an anonymous couple contribute $1000.”

Adamson is also in discussions with Kirkpatrick Stonework regarding pavement stones, which will provide the walking surface under the arches structure.

“People that want to support the project, but don’t have a lot of money, can perhaps kick in $100 to $250 for an engraved pavement stone, similar to what has been done in downtown Fenwick, at the Fonthill Legion, and the Peace Park bandshell,” said Adamson.

“We’ve got T-shirt sales for a torch run that’s going to be under the arches on July 16, which is the Saturday of Summerfest,” he said. “It will be the tenth anniversary of the arches, and the Summerfest Committee is putting up $10,000 for the cause.”

It will be the tenth anniversary of the arches, and the Summerfest Committee is putting up $10,000 for the cause

A cycling event — part of the Canada Summer Games — to take place in Pelham the second week of August, will have its start and finish at the arches. A post-event party under the structure, with beer sales and entertainment, will be another fundraiser.

The arches were first costed out at $115,000, but today’s price tag is closer to $174,000, with a contingency built in, said Adamson. The design has been reduced to three arches from the original four to save money.

“We need to raise about $65,000 more, and we’re very confident that’s attainable.”

The previous arches, intended for only one season’s use in 2012, lasted six years, and received a Niagara Community Design Award. They were comprised primarily of plywood, and blew down in a windstorm in February 2019. The new steel and concrete arches should have a lifespan of 50 to 100 years, said Adamson.

“For the Christmas Market, the arches will be lit up in red and green lights,” said Adamson. “Purple for World Polio Day, orange for Indigenous Truth and Reconciliation. Eventually, if the Town would approve it, I’d actually like to see the closing of this thoroughfare to traffic, and make it just a walkway. [Former town clerk] Nancy Bozzato always thought it would be great to be able have wedding ceremonies under the arches. There would be a lot of different opportunities.”

At a December 2021 presentation to Pelham Town Council, Adamson noted that “community leaders, the Rotary Club, Lions Club, Kinsmen Club, the Fonthill Volunteer Firefighters Association, the Niagara Region Police Association, the Canada Summer Games Council, and prominent businesses have expressed their support for the reconstruction of the iconic Pelham archway in downtown Fonthill.”

The proposal to council to modify the original design to three sets of centred arches included moving the arches 16 feet in from Pelham Street and 16 feet in on Pelham Town Square, west of the town municipal building. Both Fire Chief Bob Lymburner and Director of Public Works Jason Marr were supportive of this redesign, which will allow unobstructed turning for large trucks such as Pelham Fire’s aerial ladder truck.

“The major donors, the Rotary Club, and the Summerfest Committee all support this redesign,” said Adamson. “John Langendoen from Willowbrook Nurseries will also replant trees if the arches’ footprint is changed as an in-kind donation.”

Pelham council has committed $30,000 towards the construction of the arches in the form of a bridge loan, and Town staff have also been directed to apply for a $30,000 grant from the My Main Street grant program to recoup the cost. Niagara’s organizing committee for the Canada Summer Games is providing $10,000 for shade sails on the arches, and updated, high-efficiency lighting will come via a grant from Niagara Region.

Queries regarding donations to the arches project may be directed to Frank Adamson at 905-892-0200, [email protected]