Following a defeat by voters in the ballot box last week, Oak Bluffs leaders said this week they are uncertain about the next steps for the new town hall building project.

At a special election last Thursday, a question to exclude the debt for an additional $1.3 million from the provisions of Proposition 2 1/2 failed by 75 votes. Two days earlier the question saw overwhelming support on the town meeting floor. But without ballot approval for the added spending, the town hall project has been thrown into limbo again.

Last spring, voters approved $9.9 million for town hall project but voted down additional $1.3 million last week. — Mark Alan Lovewell

“We need to reorganize,” selectman Mike Santoro said. “I think the selectemen need to give the building committee some direction to move forward and bring it to town meeting again. The majority of people know there’s a need for a new town hall, so I would support presenting it again. To what scale, I don’t know. At this point the price tag is going to keep rising.”

Voters approved $9.9 million for the project last spring. After two rounds of bidding came in over budget this summer including with cost cutting, the decision was made to return to voters for an additional $1.3 million.

Now it’s back to the drawing board for the embattled town hall project. The building committee is scheduled to meet Nov. 28.

“I’m about to poll my troops, and see if anybody wants to go on,” committee chairman Bill McGrath said this week. “My problem personally is, I have no idea what direction to go.”

Selectman Greg Coogan said he wants to take some time to gauge what voters want to do.

“I don’t think there’s any consensus at this point on which way to go,” Mr. Coogan said. “I’m still trying to process the fact that we had the overwhelming vote for at the town meeting and then the vote against it at the ballot. I think it’s wait and see. I don’t think there is any rush to do anything right now. It’s pretty confusing now what the town wants.”

Selectman Gail Barmakian agreed. “We sort of need to sit back for a second, take a breather,” she said. “The first step is to really interpret what the vote is. The vote could have been we don’t want anything. The vote could have been we want the town hall for $9.9 million. The vote could have been, there’s all this other stuff coming down the pike, we need to think of priorities. People are concerned about taxes.”

Mark Alan Lovewell

Selectman Brian Packish, an outspoken critic of the project, said he believed voters lost faith in the process.

“I had a lot of faith in individuals that were involved in the process, great people that worked hard, but as a selectman, I was asking questions and it didn’t really feel like people were super forthcoming,” Mr. Packish said. “The outcome is as expected for me, I’m a little surprised it was as close as it was.”

At a selectmen’s meeting held Tuesday to set the tax rate, the town hall project was not a topic for discussion.

Meanwhile, in the short term town administrator Robert Whritenour said the decrepit state of the town hall — which includes rotting windows, a failed heating system and numerous code violations — will need to be addressed.

“I think certainly we’re back to the initial premise that we have a problematic town hall,” Mr. Whritenour said. “There are issues that need to be addressed, and we need to develop a building program for addressing the deficiencies in the building. It’s going to take a little discussion with the board of selectmen, and rethinking our different options and possibilities.”

The town has been renting trailers at a cost of $8,500 per month to be used as temporary housing for town employees once construction begins.

Mr. Whritenour said the temporary facilities will have to be considered in the larger context of the town’s next steps.

“There’s the town hall, there’s the temporary facilities,” he said. “We’re going to take a little time, evaluate what the best options are, not move too fast.”