What to do with the old West Tisbury police station building was a topic for discussion before the town selectmen this week. Situated on the Mill Pond at the entrance to town, the building has been vacant since April when the police department moved into new headquarters behind the public safety building in North Tisbury.
A town committee was appointed this spring to explore uses for the building; the committee recommended that the town rent the building out to an Island nonprofit. At the regular selectmen’s meeting Wednesday, board member Richard Knabel said the Martha’s Vineyard Donors Collaborative and the Sheriff’s Meadow Foundation had both expressed interest in leasing the building. “As a sort of headquarters,” he said.
Town administrator Jennifer Rand said one other group that was not a nonprofit had expressed interest as well; she did not name the group.
“It can’t be a commercial enterprise,” Mr. Knabel said.
Selectman Cynthia Mitchell agreed.
“I mean if what we’re opening it up to is a business use . . . I think that’s not in the spirit of what the committee was suggesting. I’m just trying to imagine what an acceptable commercial use would be there, or business use under zoning,” she said.
If the building was leased to a for-profit organization, it would not be for retail purposes but rather “a space to make their product that they sell elsewhere,” Ms. Rand said.
“A manufacturing facility?” Mr. Knabel joked. Board members laughed and shook their heads in disagreement.
Mr. Knabel moved that the old police station be leased to a nonprofit. But Jeffrey (Skipper) Manter said a vote wasn’t necessary. “Let’s just have a consensus. I agree we would like to see a nonprofit organization in there,” he said.
Building inspector Ernest Mendenhall told selectmen to be careful of parking and occupancy. No more than three cars can be parked outside the building, and the septic tank has a limited capacity, he said. The selectmen agreed to continue to discuss general terms for a possible lease.
Mrs. Mitchell called the conversation a good start.
According to Gazette archives, the former police station building is over a century old and once served as the town’s one-room schoolhouse. The building later served as a police station, town hall and fire station.
In other business Wednesday, selectmen unanimously voted to adopt the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency statewide public safety mutual aid law. They also signed a participation agreement for town streetlights, under terms and conditions discussed previously, to replace all bulbs with LED fixtures and switch out mercury vapor lights with admiral hats in the historic district.
Also on Wednesday, the board thanked Mr. Mendenhall for the use of his brand new silver Ford Mustang convertible in the Fourth of July parade on Saturday. “He sat up there and looked proud,” said Mrs. Mitchell, who rode with Mr. Manter while Mr. Mendenhall drove.
“And you now have a year’s supply of Smarties hidden in all the crevices,” Mr. Knabel added.