Old Tisbury Waterworks building needs restoration
The old, red brick Tisbury Waterworks building near the head of Lake Tashmoo is close to being torn down. The town water commissioners have given Tisbury about two years to find a non-profit organization to restore the building, or they will demolish it.
Built in 1887 by the Vineyard Haven Water Company, the water works is falling to pieces. The commissioners describe it as a health and safety hazard, as well as an unattractive nuisance in a highly trafficked area.
"The water works building was abandoned and legally decommissioned in about 2001 because it was no longer a viable source of water," said Deacon Perrotta, the water superintendent for Tisbury and Oak Bluffs, "Now we're fencing it off and boarding it up because it's too dangerous to leave it open."
Mr. Perrotta explained that the building is part of the Massachusetts Historical Commission Inventory of Historic and Archeological Assets. Despite that distinction, the Tisbury Water Department's requests for grants from the historical commission to save the building were rejected.
The water commissioners have been concerned at the possibility of someone entering the collapsing building and being injured. "Luckily no one's gotten hurt yet, but it still isn't safe," Mr. Perrotta said.
An investigation in 2001 estimated that stabilization alone, without any further renovation, would cost about $2 million.
Over the past few years, some organizations have been interested in the building. In 2000, the Martha's Vineyard Preservation Trust looked into restoring the building for a non-profit use, perhaps by an environmental organization.
The trust will only work with properties that it owns, and because the water commissioners offered to grant a series of 25-year leases instead of full ownership, the trust declined to pursue the project. In a telephone interview Tuesday, Christopher Scott of the Martha's Vineyard Preservation Trust said, "We haven't closed the door. If we could find a way to guarantee long-term ownership of the building and a permanent easement, we might be able to invest in the project."
In addition to a non-profit use, Mr. Scott mentioned that the building might attract interest from the private sector. "It's such an amazing location," he said. "I'm sure it would be wonderful for a restaurant or residential use. I don't know how the town would feel about that, though."