West Tisbury seeks support for Howes House

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West Tisbury is looking to share the costs of operating Howes House with Chilmark and Aquinnah. — Rich Saltzberg

West Tisbury is looking to renovate Howes House, which houses the Up-Island Council on Aging. The town is hoping Chilmark and Aquinnah will pitch in toward the project.

During a Zoom meeting on Wednesday, the West Tisbury select board discussed the possibility of having all of the Up-Island towns take part in the Howes House building project “both in membership and financially.” Select board chair Skipper Manter brought up the Tri-Town Ambulance service as a comparison, in which the three towns share one-third of the costs. 

Howes House is owned by West Tisbury, but Chilmark and Aquinnah share in the program costs, since it is meant for their residents as well. 

West Tisbury town administrator Jennifer Rand said she reached out to Chilmark town administrator Timothy Carroll and Aquinnah town administrator Jeffrey Madison, and they told her both “towns are open to conversation.” However, no agreements have been reached.

“Without a proposal to respond to, it was difficult,” said Rand. 

Rand told The Times a feasibility study is being conducted by West Tisbury to see how Howes House can be renovated to improve the Council of Aging’s program capabilities. An open bid has been posted for an engineer “to determine the structural condition and deficiencies of the existing building and meet with the feasibility study committee to convey findings and alternatives and determine project priorities.” Companies have until Oct. 4 at noon to respond to the request for bids. 

To support the study, Council on Aging outreach coordinator Bethany Hammond was unanimously approved by the select board to be appointed as a member of the Howes House feasibility study committee. 

Rand wants to schedule a select board meeting among the three towns on Oct. 14 to discuss cost sharing for the project. She also said the Tri-Town Ambulance budget formula will be discussed. 

Manter said he would like the select board to meet before the Up-Island meeting to discuss the Tri-Town Ambulance budget.