Why do so many public buildings have so many flaws?


To the Editor:

I read with interest the recent article about problems with the school building in Chilmark. While I am not disputing the facts of the reporting, it occurs to me that Chilmark is hardly alone among Island towns in having a municipal building with problems, yet there is something accusatory in the tone of the article.

Taking a quick mental inventory of Island public building projects, a long litany of problems, disappointments, and rehabs comes to mind — the Tisbury Police Station (“the garage mahal”); the old “new hospital”; the Oak Bluffs town office; problems at the new Oak Bluffs Library and at the old school; multiple rehabs of the West Tisbury School; expensive delays and issues with the new Tisbury Public Safety Building, rehabs at the Steamship Authority. And there are others.

However, we do not need a longer list to make the point. It is true that something structurally unsound abounds, but it may originate in policy and process. Are towns or their officers responsible, or is there a structural flaw in the process and guidelines that our town officials, committees, and governments labor under, in which these designs and specs are generated?

Before any more Island municipal buildings are commissioned and designed, maybe we need to overhaul the framework under which public works are commissioned.

Abigail Higgins

West Tisbury

Editor’s Note: Abigail Higgins writes the Garden Notes column in The Times.