West Tisbury voters will be asked at the annual town meeting on April 10 to spend in the neighborhood of $5 million to renovate the historic town hall.
Beatrice Phear, chairman of the town hall renovation committee, said voters will have firm estimates for the project to consider at town meeting. Specifications are currently being priced by architects Keenan and Kenny of Falmouth and are expected to fall between $4.7 and $5.2 million, Mrs. Phear said.
“Earlier, we said we were going to submit a firm bid but the process has been so tight, we are concerned that rushing it would create expensive change orders later,” she said, adding: “I am comfortable that voters will have ample information on which to make an informed decision.” Voters last year at the annual town meeting approved $150,000 for the design work, which is now nearly completed.
The current plan is the third renovation attempt in four years on the 130-year old mansard-roofed former school house. Voters approved $3.7 million for the project in 2004, but later balked at a huge projected cost overrun in 2005. And the project went back to the drawing board.
Mrs. Phear said she believes the project has benefitted from the delay. Among other things, she said, the town is planning to devote some $500,000 of Community Preservation Act money to the project. And she said the design is better and more energy efficient.
Architectural renderings of the project will be available by the first of four public meetings that begin on March 10 with a hearing before the historic district commission followed by a March 12 hearing with the zoning board of appeals. On March 19 a meeting will be held with the town selectmen and a final public hearing is set for March 26.
The plan includes retaining the open floor plan and moving the second floor stairs. An addition, slightly smaller than in earlier plans, will include a second staircase, an elevator and bathrooms with access for people who are handicapped. Solar panels on the roof and an energy efficient lighting systems are also part of the plan, Mrs. Phear said.
The renovation calls for realigning the south side first floor windows to return them to much as they were 100 or so years ago, she said.