West Tisbury projects may get fast-tracked
With the successful reconstruction of the West Tisbury Town Hall and the possibility of a new and large state grant, town officials are considering two new building projects, an addition to the West Tisbury Library and a new police station to replace the small office next to Mill Pond.
Chuck Hodgkinson, chairman of the former space needs committee, submitted to selectmen a detailed plan, available at mvtimes.com, describing how the projects might be scheduled. On February 4, Mr. Hodgkinson discussed with the selectmen the possibility of accelerating the schedule and the scope of the library addition and the new police station headquarters.
In a later conversation, Mr. Hodgkinson told The Times that he updated the space needs committee report, to "let the selectmen know what is going on and to hear if they had any comments."
The space needs committee was originally appointed to study the town's future facilities and space needs. In 2007, the committee created a plan designed to schedule projects that would add to the town's debt only as the town retires debt. Construction of a new police station was to begin in fiscal 2015, which begins on July 1, 2014, at an estimated cost of $1.8 to $2.2 million. The library addition was to begin in FY 2016, at an estimated cost of $5.3 million, half of which the town would have to pay.
Mr. Hodgkinson told selectmen the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners (MBLC) has recently announced a new library grant program, to open this year. If the West Tisbury Library wishes to compete for the funds, a letter of intent must be submitted by August, he said. Mr. Hodgkinson told the selectmen that the MBLC had said that the new grant program "may be the last of its kind for the foreseeable future, due to economic and budget challenges."
The grant could provide as much as 60 percent of the total cost of a library addition, including $800,000 in land acquisition expenses. Additional land is needed to expand the library and to provide for additional parking, according to the report.
Past planning and feasibility studies estimated that the library would need to be more than tripled in size from the current 5,640 square feet to 18,000 square feet. According to the plan presented to the selectmen, the future space need is now thought to be 10,395. Plans include the addition of a new juvenile activity space and a reference room.
The Friends of the West Tisbury Library recently created a private 501(C)(3) foundation to raise $1.2 million in funds for this expansion as well as long-term needs, he said. If the grant were received and the private funds raised, the cost to the town "could be as low as $1.3 million - which is half the space needs estimate of $2.6 million," Mr. Hodgkinson said.
Mr. Hodgkinson told selectmen that in order to take advantage of the new grant program, library construction would have to begin before June, 2013, and be completed by December 31, 2015. "The good thing is that we would not ask the voters for funds at the 2012 town meeting, until we know how much the grant is," he said.
West Tisbury treasurer Kathy Logue called applying for the state funds to offset town costs "a no-brainer." She said that if the state funds were secured, the town would "flip our construction schedule."
In his written report, Mr. Hodgkinson laid out a plan designed to take advantage of the grant funding schedule by submitting a MBLC grant application in 2011 and bringing the project and its costs to voters at the annual town meeting in 2012. If the plan remains on schedule, construction could begin as early as the fourth quarter of 2012, he said.
In addition to plans for a new library addition, Mr. Hodgkinson described a working timeline to construct a new police station. The planning process is scheduled to begin in 2012, with construction to begin in the fourth quarter of 2014.
The current police station on the West Tisbury/Edgartown Road is 930 square feet. If the new station is built adjacent to the Public Safety Building, off State Road in North Tisbury, the future space would be 1,900 square feet; if built elsewhere the building could be 2,200 square feet. A preliminary construction budget estimates the new station would cost $1.6 to $1.8 million if built on a slab or $2.1 to $2.2 million if built with a basement.
The selectmen suggested that the police station planning process be initiated sooner, even prior to the hiring of a new police chief.