Voters will be asked to pay more for West Tisbury library

The West Tisbury library expansion is on track, town leaders said. — Photo by Ralph Stewart

West Tisbury selectmen learned Wednesday that an additional $40,000 will be needed to complete the newly renovated and enlarged West Tisbury Library. Leah Smith, chairman of the West Tisbury Library building committee, gave selectmen a detailed explanation of why more money is needed to complete the almost $6 million building that, she said, is scheduled to open on Saturday, March 22.

She said that items were removed from the original plans to cut costs at the beginning of the project when the construction bid exceeded the budget by $100,000. A contingency fund needed to cover unexpected costs had been exhausted by work that included the need to move more dirt than expected, invasive grass removal, and construction delays and additional costs due to bad weather.

The renovation and expansion project began with public comment meetings in 2008. The library foundation, formed in 2010 to raise private funds to help with the cost of the expansion, raised $1.7 million. The library qualified for a state grant of $2.93 million in 2011, and the town approved $1.5 million for the library at town meeting in April, 2011, by a nearly unanimous vote. The project is budgeted to cost a little more than $6 million.

Wednesday, selectman Jeffrey “Skipper” Manter said that members of the library foundation, which spearheaded the renovation, said they would cover any cost overruns when they asked the town to contribute $1.5 million to the project.

“I cannot support this request, although I support the project,” Mr. Manter said.

Mr. Manter’s fellow board members took another view.

“It seems to me that it needs to be done,” selectman Cindy Mitchell added.

“In a $6 million project, $40,000 is just over six tenths of a percent, by my calculation,” said selectman Richard Knabel. “You’ve done well.”

The selectmen did not need to vote since the $40,000 request will be added to a capital improvement article that will appear on the annual town meeting warrant to be presented to voters on April 8.

Town accountant Bruce Stone said that private donations to the library have reached $1.8 million. He added that the foundation has been wonderful to work with, always releasing funds to the town on time.

Leak in fire pond

In other business, civil engineer Kent Healy said he had discovered a breach in the canal knowns as Factory Brook, that runs south from the Mill Pond into Maley Pond, resulting in low water levels in Maley Pond, which is used as a water source by the fire department. The Garden Club owns the land the brook traverses.

Mr. Healey said the breach could be repaired with sand bags for about $1,000. Town administrator Jennifer Rand said there is money in the fire department budget that could be used, since the health of Maley Pond is a fire fighting issue.

Selectmen discussed the use of biodegradable sandbags. Mr. Knabel said that biodegradable sandbags would break down triggering endless repairs. Mr. Healy smiled and said that the sandbags are designed to encourage plant growth and that by the time they decomposed they would create a permanent berm held together by the plant growth. Selectmen approved the plan and the use of biodegradable sandbags unanimously.

Last week, selectmen learned that Broadway Electric, the construction company contracted by the Cape and Vineyard Electric Cooperative (CVEC) to build a 773 kilowatt solar array over the old town dump is going out of business, leaving the project at risk of losing the tax and rate credits that made it feasible.

Selectmen approved Mr. Knabel’s request to seek an opinion from town counsel on the implications of CVEC’s failure to construct the town’s photovoltaic array at the town landfill off Old Stage Road on time. Ms. Rand said a CVEC representative told her there has been no movement on the possible transfer of the construction contract from Broadway to another possible contractor, G&S Solar, that has installed similar projects for CVEC on other sites.

Also Wednesday, selectmen unanimously approved ground leases for three recently completed affordable houses on Bailey Park off Great Plains Road. The houses were built by Habitat for Humanity. The leases will be managed by the Island Housing Trust.

Under new business, Mr. Knabel suggested the next town party be held December 11, 2014. Selectmen approved the proposal. Mr. Knabel suggested that town residents mark their calendars.