Pain in the asphalt shingles is almost over

Building permit issued for Santander bank clay roof tiles.

Tisbury selectmen will be discussing the former Santander Bank building during an executive session Tuesday.

A roofing contractor looking to replace the roof of Santander Bank in Vineyard Haven with a more historically accurate clay tile roof was issued a building permit for the project Friday by Tisbury building inspector Ken Barwick.

In what’s been a three-year journey, which included town selectmen stepping in to refer the roof project to the Martha’s Vineyard Commission as a development of regional impact (DRI) in 2016, the roof controversy appears to be nearing the finish line. Since putting up asphalt shingles, Santander has closed the branch and put the building on the market, though it hasn’t sold — presumably because of the roof issue hanging over it.

In 2017, the commission ordered the bank to replace the roof with clay tiles, there was a legal battle, and ultimately Santander and the commission reached an agreement in October 2018, and the commission set a deadline for the work to be completed by May 31, 2019. The most recent delays, according to Barwick, were the result of fine-tuning some elements of the roof based on old photographs of the Main Street building, specifically trim pieces that he wanted to make sure were compatible.

“It took some time to get a completed application from the contractor,” Barwick told The Times. “Now that we have it, the permit is out.”

The plans were signed off by MVC executive director Adam Turner and the Tisbury Historical Commission, Barwick said. 

Turner confirmed the commission has signed off on the plans. “We found that the plan was consistent with what we expected,” Turner said.

The roof replacement is estimated at close to $200,000 on the building permit, though a commission report at the time of the settlement put the price tag at closer to $300,000. Realistically, it will be late September or early October before the project is done, Barwick said.

Barwick faced criticism for not referring the project originally to the MVC. The original tiles dated back to 1905, when the building was constructed by William Barry Owen, which checks the boxes for a DRI review as a historic structure.

Asked if he was concerned about the missed May 31 deadline, Turner said, “I’m just glad we’re getting it done.”