The whimsical alabaster dancing sculptures that are synonymous with the Field Gallery in West Tisbury now have a firmly-cemented place in the town’s future.

The West Tisbury selectmen signed the final papers yesterday morning to buy 1.4 acres of the gallery and sculpture garden in the village center from Tim and Eileen Maley. The purchase price was $625,000; a sale agreement was signed last spring and approved by voters at the annual town meeting.

The art gallery inside the building will continue to be operated by Chris Morse, who owns the Granary and North Water galleries. The town has entered into a five-year lease with Mr. Morse.

A closing took place yesterday morning at the Edgartown office of West Tisbury town counsel Ronald H. Rappaport.

Selectman Richard Knabel hailed the moment.

“For 40 years the gallery was treated as a public space and I think it’s wonderful — it is now truly a public space in perpetuity,” Mr. Knabel said after the closing. “It’s a nice Christmas gift, not only to West Tisbury but to the entire Island.”

Designed by architect Robert Schwartz (also a West Tisbury resident), the Field Gallery opened in 1971 as an artist cooperative on the property owned by the late Tom and Helen Maley. Over the years it became something of a landmark and a public green, where art exhibits, dance performances and other public gatherings would be held. The famous dancing sculptures were created by the artist Tom Maley, who died in 2000, leaving the property to his son and daughter in law.

Mr. Knabel thought the artist, who was also his friend, would be happy with the sale.

“Tom Maley is smiling somewhere,” Mr. Knabel said, adding that Tim and Eileen Maley had been “public spirited” throughout the transfer.

Mr. Maley agreed with Mr. Knabel’s assessment about his father.

“I know my father would have loved it,” he said . “He tried to give the gallery to the town 20 years ago and we all jumped on him. We feel good about it. It’s hard being a landlord.”

At the annual town meeting last April, West Tisbury voters agreed to spend $685,000 to buy the property through a combination of community preservation act monies, borrowing, and yearly rent from the gallery. The additional $60,000 is costs associated with borrowing and legal fees.

Selectman Cynthia Mitchell also praised the Maleys for their dedication to the town.

“It’s been a real pleasure working with the Maleys on this wonderful acquisition,” Mrs. Mitchell said yesterday. “The Field Gallery and land around it are perfect common areas in the center of town and it’s now preserved as much.”

Mr. and Mrs. Maley have been negotiating the sale since last December. In January the planning board agreed to allow the Maleys to divide the 1.4-acre parcel containing the Field Gallery to facilitate the purchase. The Maleys still own an additional 11 acres behind the gallery.

Conditions of the sale included a new roof, septic inspection and removal of an underground storage tank on the property, all provided by the Maleys. The purchase and sale agreement also allows for the town to maintain an existing easement from Sweet William Way and access to a town well on the property; the gallery is currently connected to the Maley’s well and will be switched over to the town well.

Mr. Maley said they waited until now to complete the sale so they could continue to collect rent from the gallery.

Mr. Morse said the Field Gallery will continue to operate as it has under his direction for the last 11 years, with no foreseeable changes.

“It makes perfect sense for the town to own the property and keep it preserved as open space with the cultural attraction that it is,” he said. “Giving us the opportunity to run the retail gallery in the gallery itself is continuing the tradition that was started by Tom Maley.

“It’s ideal because the town gets to oversee its front yard.”