The West Tisbury select board opened the floor this week to residents with varying ideas for the use of Howes House, now home to the Up-Island Council on Aging, which is slated for an $8 million renovation.

The issue was added to the August 31 agenda after resident Susan Silk proposed at an earlier meeting that the building be used as a broader community center.

Voters at April’s West Tisbury town meeting approved $523,000 to hire an owner’s project manager and a designer for the Howes House renovation project. The project is now in the early stages of a planned four-year design and construction process.

“There’s no need for this entire building to be seen as a facility for seniors,” said Ms. Silk, a volunteer with the survey subcommittee responsible for gathering community input for the Howes House renovation, at an August 17 select board meeting.

“The main floor and lower levels could offer a range of activities meeting the … intergenerational needs of the Up-island residents and visitors,” she said. “It’s time that building was used to attract younger residents and visitors, especially as … we intend the taxpayers to fund, to finance the building upgrades.”

Dan Waters, who said he had recently entered the 55+ bracket that the programming is currently geared for, also argued for a change of use at the August 31 meeting.

“For me, the Howes House has always been something I might be destined for someday but was never quite ready for,” he said in favor of an expanded mission. “I’d like to see that change.”

Other speakers, however, expressed concern that changing the direction of the Howes House might jeopardize funding.

“Calling it a community center might eliminate some possible financing, about $4 million of it,” said Jim Klingensmith, referring to anticipated contributions from Aquinnah and Chilmark, which share funding for the facility.

While the Up-Island council serves all three towns, Mr. Klingensmith expressed skepticism that they might contribute to a more community center-oriented project, since both other towns already have their own.

Bernadette Lyons echoed Mr. Klingensmith’s financing concerns, and said that staffing a community center might increasing employment expenses, considerably adding to the town’s budget.

Town administrator Jennifer Rand noted the project is still in the design phase and emphasized the need to stay on schedule.

“I think the good news here is that we don’t have to stop what we are doing with the architect moving forward,” she said. “Under every circumstance, whether the people we are meeting with are 22 or 82, we need large meeting spaces, we need an exercise room, we need small meeting spaces…There is no reason for this process to stop.”

Construction planning, she said, can continue while the community and Council on Aging evaluate programing priorities.

Louisa Hufstader contributed to this story.