The Chilmark selectmen are gaining ground in their efforts to improve the Chilmark Community Center building. Last week they unanimously approved funding for a new vestibule and began talking more seriously about replacing the oak floor, which has been buckling for many years.
The new vestibule, designed by Stevanof Architects of Boston, would enclose the front steps and allow the two front doors to be anchored in an open position during the summer. So far the design includes only the exterior portion of the vestibule.
Town custodian Rodney Bunker recommended doing the interior portion at a later time. “The center is heavily booked, so we have a small window to try to get this accomplished,” he said. He added that construction of the exterior portion would likely take more than two weeks.
Selectman Warren Doty said the town affairs council had shown an interest in contributing to the cost of the project. Based on email correspondence, he said: “It looked like there was a partnership, which I understood as 50/50.”
The selectmen voted to approve up to $35,000 for the project, “seeking significant contribution from the town affairs council.” Executive secretary Timothy Carroll believed the project would cost between $20,000 and $30,000.
Mr. Bunker provided an update on the community center floor, which is still buckling after attempts this year to fix the problem. Mr. Bunker had helped to remove the building’s old ductwork, some of which had been installed along the floor, and to seal the area beneath the floor with plastic and foam insulation. But the floor kept buckling, even in places that had been screwed down.
“We’ve tried our own homegrown see-if-we-can-fix-it ways that different people recommend,” Mr. Doty said. “But it hasn’t worked.”
Chairman William Rossi believed the town would eventually need to install an HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) system to solve the problem. “I think without controlling the climate inside that building artificially we’re going to have this problem forever,” he said.
Mr. Bunker said the problem was at least partly due to people not closing the door behind them when they enter or leave the building.
He said that a new floor could include expansion joints every foot or so to allow the floorboards to expand and contract. “But then again you are going to be looking at a lot of eighth-of-an-inch gaps,” he said. He agreed with Mr. Doty, who said that “a gap is better than a buckle.”
The selectmen agreed to prepare a warrant article for the October town meeting, asking for between $5,000 and $10,000 for an engineering study that would lead to a recommendation.
“You’re not going to pay someone five hundred bucks to do this,” Mr. Carroll said. “This is going to cost a lot of money, and the solution is going to cost some money too.” But he added that once it was done, the selectmen could address other problems related to a sliding door, a hand-wash sink, “and other things that we’ve got on our list.”
Mr. Bunker said earlier that a new floor should be installed before the interior portion of the vestibule is constructed.
In other news, the selectmen voted to sponsor a $65,000 request to the Community Preservation Committee for restoring the south façade of the original portion of town hall. Charles Hodgkinson, administrative assistant for the CPC, said the committee had discussed the project and thought it was worthwhile. It also has been endorsed by the town’s historical commission.
Mr. Bunker said the project would cost around $90,000, and include the removal of lead paint. “I’m not too happy about the cost of it,” he said. “But I spoke with a lot of lead paint remover contractors and they are just not going to do it on the cheap.”
“We have in the past appropriated some money for this but it wasn’t enough,” said Mr. Doty. The town would use that money to make up the difference in the cost.
Other problems with town hall were addressed at the meeting. Mr. Bunker reported that an engineer who had visited the building determined that its air handler was “vastly underpowered” and unable to keep the building at an adequate temperature.
One problem is that the upstairs computer room was not sized properly and generates too much heat. “It represents about 25 per cent of the latent load of the building,” Mr. Carroll said. Perhaps the biggest concern is the overheating of the attic, Mr. Bunker said. When the engineer visited, he said, it was about 80 degrees outside but 115 degrees in the attic.
The selectmen discussed the possibility of installing two roof vents on opposite sides of the building and adding two smaller air conditioners to the system. Mr. Bunker said the engineer had suggested stopping the air flow from upstairs to downstairs, and connecting the computer room directly to the air conditioning duct, which runs above it.
“We have to figure out a budget for this other stuff,” Mr. Carroll said. “But it certainly seems like it’s a worthwhile investment.”