West Tisbury library, police station proceed on budget, schedule

A small evergreen placed on the roof ridge marked the halfway point in the West Tisbury library renovation project on Monday. Town officials on hand to celebrate included (L-R): John Christiansen, Ian Aitchison, Tucker Hubbell, library director Beth Kramer, Lynne Whiting, selectman Richard Knabel, Linda Hearn, building committee chairman Leah Smith. — Photo courtesy of West Tisbury Library

West Tisbury is currently engaged in two major construction projects — a new police station and the renovation of the library. Together, the projects represent nearly $9 million in new construction in the small Island town.

The library renovation reached a milestone on Monday when building and town officials held a topping off ceremony to celebrate the halfway point of the project. An evergreen was placed on the roof ridge as a large group of people closely connected to the project applauded. “It takes a village to raise a library. I am so proud of our village,” librarian Beth Kramer said.

Both projects are on budget and on schedule for completion next winter, the library in January and the police station in early February, selectman Richard Knabel told The Times in a conversation on Monday.

He said the library project was delayed by almost three weeks because of inclement winter weather, but it is only one week behind schedule at the moment. He expects it to be finished on time.

The only other hitch in the library project is the use of half of the $200,000 budgeted for contingencies, Mr. Knabel said. That money was used to correct utility location issues and for the removal of vegetation that could have damaged concrete work on the project.

He pointed out that contingency funds are most often used during the early stages of construction, when unanticipated conditions are discovered.

The library

The West Tisbury Free Public Library has the largest circulation of any of the Island libraries and is the center of a dynamic series of programs for youth and all Island residents, according to library board member Dan Waters. “Yet only the Aquinnah library has a smaller building,” he said.

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 project at town meeting in April, 2011, by a nearly unanimous vote. The project is budgeted to cost a little more than $6 million dollars.

The current library, built in 1993, is 5,640 square feet. The new structure will measure about 13,000 square feet. The new design will include a new study room for young adults, a room for programs, lectures and films, a director’s office, staff work space, meeting space, and restrooms. The design includes unfinished space for future expansion.

The library project includes stripping and gutting the existing 1993 building. The reading room of the old library in the rear was removed. The land beneath was excavated to make room for a lower level, creating a two-story addition that will double the over-all size of the library.

The concrete block elevator shaft is in place in the new addition as is the supporting steel and wood frame. The walls are sided and the roof is nearing completion.

When asked if it might have been more economical to level the old library and begin from scratch, Nauset Construction Company on-site field supervisor Michael Burke of Hingham said in this case it is cheaper to reuse the existing framing.

“It was a wise decision. The original framing and the plywood sheathing are in excellent condition,” he said.

Mr. Burke, who is renting a place in Oak Bluffs where he stays weekdays during the construction of the library, said they have used up two weeks of the grace period built into the schedule for unexpected delays but are on course to make up the time.

Even though Nauset Construction built the new Steamship Authority terminal in Oak Bluffs and has some Island experience, Mr. Burke said that dealing with off-Island contractors still involves unique challenges. “When you give them directions to the building site they sometimes express shock when you tell them they have to take a boat to get here. That has produced some delays.” He agreed that the weather was not particularly helpful this past winter but expects the job to be finished on time and on budget.

New police station

A large hole in the ground behind the West Tisbury Public Safety Building on State Road marks the location of the new 5,634-square-foot police station, scheduled to be completed in February 2014.

In April 2010, town meeting voters allocated $75,000 for a police department building feasibility study. At annual town meeting on April 9, 2013, voters approved by a near unanimous vote spending $2,495,000 for a 5,634-square-foot police station, with about 3,814 square feet of usable, space behind the public safety building in North Tisbury.

The West Tisbury Police Department has used the small building on the West Tisbury Edgartown Road next to the Mill Pond as its headquarters since the mid-1970s. The building had served as the town hall for what was then a much smaller mid-20th-century town. The town hall moved to its present building on the corner of Music Street and State Road after the West Tisbury School vacated that building for its present site in 1974. The police moved in not long after.

The new building, which will be connected to the public safety building, includes a lobby, offices, and a bathroom on the first floor. A conference room, a bunk-room, a break room, a lavatory, and office space for animal control and emergency services personnel will be on the second floor. The basement will have two locker rooms, evidence and armory rooms, and storage areas.

Soon after excavating the building site builders realized the high sand content of the soil was too unstable to allow them to safely shore up the foundation of the existing building with steel sheets to hold the soil in place as planned, according to owners’ project supervisor Mike Snow of Builders Systems, Inc., from Sandwich. A recommendation was made to move the police building almost ten feet farther back to protect the building with a correspondingly longer hallway between the new and older buildings.

The new plan was approved. It was then discovered that the original septic system would have to be moved as well. Mr. Snow said that the additional cost of the longer hall and moving the septic system is less than the cost of driving the steel sheets into the ground would have been.

Accustomed to working on the Island, Builders Systems supervised renovation work on the West Tisbury School two years ago.

“The footings are to be poured this week,” Mr. Snow said. “All is well, and the project is on schedule.”

Selectman Knabel said that once the foundation is complete, the job should be finished pretty quickly.