Edgartown library design committee chairman resigns

Chris Scott, the chairman of the Edgartown library design committee, resigned that job, effective at once, with his surprise announcement at the beginning of the committee’s December 10 meeting. Mr. Scott, who is executive director of the Martha’s Vineyard Preservation Trust, said leading the library committee left him scrambling to fulfill his duties with the trust.

“With regret, I’m going to have to excuse myself as chair,” Mr. Scott said. “It has been fascinating.”

The committee meetings have been contentious affairs, with a host of interests vying for influence over the library design and location. Through the divisive debate, Mr. Scott’s stewardship kept the group focused and moving forward.

The announcement of his resignation caught nearly everyone by surprise. There were audible gasps in the meeting room from the committee members and the audience.

Committee member Carl Watt appealed to Mr. Scott to stay in the chairman’s seat and have the committee accelerate its pace.

“I wish you would reconsider, if we give it a good push,” Mr. Watt said.

But Mr. Scott said his decision was final. “Trust me, Carl, I’ve given it a lot of thought,” Mr. Scott said. “This involved much more time than I anticipated.”

A poll of the committee members during the public meeting revealed that none were willing to take the chairman’s job. Design committee member and selectman Michael Donaroma called the prospect of proceeding without Mr. Scott as chairman horrifying. “We’re not going to fill those shoes,” Mr. Donaroma said.

Mr. Scott said he is willing to remain a member of the committee. He reluctantly agreed to facilitate Friday’s meeting, but not officially as the chairman.

New plan

The latest iteration of the library design includes only six parking spaces, on the North Water Street site of the current library. The parking scheme designates one of those spaces as parking for handicapped people.

The latest design includes preservation of the Capt. Warren House, though the committee has reached no consensus on how it would be incorporated into the library plans. Previous plans called for demolishing, the Warren House, replacing it with a 16-space parking lot just off North Water Street. But the Edgartown historic district commission, in an informal discussion with the design committee, signaled strong opposition to demolition of the building.

“To demolish a historic house to put in a parking lot, in the middle of the historic district, doesn’t seem like a good idea,” James Cisek, chairman of the historic district commission said, following that discussion.

Mr. Cisek said the commission considers the latest design an entirely new project, and the design committee must begin the permitting process anew.

After a review, town counsel concurred with that position, according to library design committee members.

Mixed review

According to several members of the design committee, including some who did not want to comment publicly before today’s scheduled committee meeting, a review of the latest library design plan before the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners on Tuesday did not go well.

One who did speak for the record was Ann Tyra, who spoke in favor of the latest design at last Friday’s meeting.

“They were critical of the greatly reduced parking,” Ms. Tyra said Wednesday. She also said the state officials had some objections to the floor plans. But she said the interior layout could be easily adjusted. “I didn’t feel their comments on the interior were unmanageable. They were very fair comments.”

The Board of Library Commissioners administers state grants for library construction, and decides which proposals get funded based on rankings created by a volunteer panel of library directors, architects, and other professionals.