Tisbury selectmen, the town fire chief and citizens joined the chorus of frustration this week over the Emergency Services Facility which sits unfinished and unoccupied on West Spring street.
At the selectmen’s meeting Tuesday, fire chief John Schilling chided the selectmen for diverting too much of the project manager’s attention to the issue of landscaping for abutters, leaving less time to focus on the more pressing matters at hand with the building, which now include a half-failed asphalt test and interior humidity problems.
The $7.38 million, 18,000-square-foot building was due to be completed last summer but construction flaws and project delays have pushed the move-in date back numerous times. The general contractor, Seaver Construction of Woburn, has already paid the town more than $18,000 in penalties to cover damages and project delays including a misaligned foundation, buckled steel supports and drainage issues. The building will house the fire department and emergency vehicles.
Two weeks ago the selectmen met with Clifford and Leah Dorr, who live next door to the building, to discuss a landscaping plan promised by the town as mitigation for the impact of the building on their property.
On Tuesday town administrator John Bugbee reported to the board that building committee chairman Joe Tierney would examine the $5,000 landscaping plan in detail before signing off on it. And Mr. Schilling joined the discussion.
“With all due respect to the board and the promise made to the Dorrs, there’s been a tremendous amount of energy expended on this in a short period of time,” the fire chief said. “And that energy has gone off the main focus of the project — we have a lot of significant issues that have not been resolved at the facility . . . We were meeting two months ago to begin the negotiation process [with the contractors] to wrap this project up, and we’ve made no progress in those two months,” he added.
“I absolutely agree with you,” replied Tisbury selectman Tristan Israel. “The only part I disagree with is that I don’t think the issue is with the landscaping. I understand it’s taken up some of Joe’s time . . .”
“Some of his time?” questioned Chief Schilling. “Over the past few weeks he has spent countless hours just on this part of the project alone . . . The board of selectmen made a promise to the Dorrs that they would deal with this. The board of selectmen need to direct the necessary resources to resolve it and stop taking our committee chairperson off the main project that he’s supposed to be working on.”
Chief Schilling urged the selectmen to focus on negotiating a settlement with Seaver Construction so the town can take the final steps needed to move into the building.
Mr. Israel reiterated his comments from the last selectmen’s meeting.
“At a certain point we have to get into that building. We are going to have to cut our ties with Seaver, but we want to do it in a way that is not going to cost the town a ton of money,” Mr. Israel said. “But I don’t have any illusion that we are not going to be in court with them at some point down the road.”
Mr. Tierney told the board that there are three main items left to deal with: the parking lot pavement, the air system, and clean-up in the building.
He said asphalt tests performed by White Brothers-Lynch Corporation came back with mixed results.
“Some passed, some failed,” Mr. Tierney said.
He said he is currently negotiating with Lynch for repaving where it is needed and is hoping to have the work completed by Sept. 1.
He also cited an excessive humidity issue inside the building that is causing rust, and said Seaver is fixing the problem.
Mr. Bugbee reported that in a conference call with town counsel and Mike Lawrence from HKT Architects, a list was developed for remaining work on the building by Seaver that the town will consider whether to accept, reject, or take credit for and do the work themselves.
The selectmen will hold a special meeting early next week to discuss legal negotiations and settlements.
“Let’s take care of this,” said selectman Jeff Kristal. “Let’s wipe this off.”
The Dorrs also attended the meeting, and after clearing up a few details, Mr. Kristal moved to approve the landscaping proposal.
“They have a planting plan, they’re happy with it. Let’s do whatever the Dorrs want for a change,” he said.
In other business Tuesday, Chief Schilling reported problems with two Tisbury inns that had failed to respond to inspection requests.
He said The Martha’s Vineyard Inn, owned by Roni DeLuz, and the Look Inn, owned by Frederick Rundlet, have not completed their lodging house renewals due to the need for inspections.
Selectmen agreed to give the inn owners another week, “or we will do all we can to have them cease business,” said Mr. Israel.
Members of the town energy committee also attended to announce the formal designation of the town as a Green Community by Gov. Deval Patrick.
At the State House in Boston two weeks ago, Tisbury was among 17 designated communities, and received a grant of $140,925.
West Tisbury is the other Island town that won a designation and grant money.
Ambulance coordinator Jeffrey Pratt also attended to formally announce his retirement as of Columbus Day.
“It will be very hard to fill your shoes,” said Mr. Israel. “I can’t think of anyone who is more passionate than you.”