West Tisbury will present new highway department barn proposal

Voters will have an opportunity to learn the ins and outs of the $858K project at a public information session on March 24.

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A drawing of the new highway department barn.

West Tisbury town leaders have set about selling voters on a new highway barn to replace what they say is an inadequate, dilapidated, and in some areas unsafe, space.

“The highway department has never had a true home,” West Tisbury highway department building committee chairman and West Tisbury Police Chief Dan Rossi told The Times Friday afternoon. “They have been working out of the old fire station on Courthouse Road, and it’s really not working out for their needs.”

“That building we have has no heat, so we need a building with heat so that we can do repairs in the winter,” highway superintendent Richard Olsen told The Times.

The current building is riddled with problems, they said. It was partially condemned, is too small to house most of the equipment used by the department, and is in a residential area. After careful review, town leaders decided the expense to remediate and renovate was not worth the expense.

The proposed new barn will cost $857,500. Voters will be asked to foot the bill at annual town meeting on April 12 and at the polls on April 14. If approved, work on the project will likely begin early this summer and take one year to complete.

The building committee will hold a public information session on Thursday, March 24, at 5:30 pm at the West Tisbury public safety building meeting room.

The West Tisbury highway department is charged with maintaining the safety and appearance of the town’s 14 miles of roads. In addition to removing snow, salting, and sanding, there is also daily pickup of roadside trash, ongoing trimming of brush and roadside mowing, removing storm damage, and seasonal sweeping of sand from the roads.

The highway department has two staffers in addition to Mr. Olsen, two trucks, a Kubota tractor and trailer, two mowers, a brush cutter, a chipper, and numerous other smaller equipment. Much of this equipment remains outdoors and subject to the elements in the current situation. Staff members also do not currently have an office. The new barn would provide one.

“The selectmen formed a site committee a few years back, and the best site the committee could come up with was to put it behind the public safety building,” Mr. Rossi, a member of the site committee, said.

In addition to Mr. Rossi and Mr. Olsen, the building committee includes West Tisbury Fire Chief Manny Estrella, Kent Healy, and Doug Ruskin. “The group was charged with studying the needs and coming up with a design that would take the highway department 20 years out into the future,” Mr. Rossi said.

Daedalus Projects of Boston, architects for the West Tisbury police station and the West Tisbury library, designed the new building.

The new barn design calls for a 3,200-square-foot prefabricated metal building with a metal roof, and includes an upgraded insulation package for energy efficiency. Solar panels may be added to the roof at a later time. “But it has shingle on the outside to fit into the town of West Tisbury,” said Mr. Rossi.

There would be space for all current equipment, and room for growth. An office, a break room, a bathroom, a mechanical room, and mezzanine storage are included in the design.

Because the new building would also be part of the West Tisbury public safety campus, there would be better security, Mr. Rossi said.