Edgartown residents will convene this month for a special town meeting to decide whether to purchase a property adjacent to the Edgartown Free Public Library to make room for expansion of the century-old library.
The property for sale is the Captain Warren House, previously a seasonal annex to the Daggett House Inn. Built around 1850, the structure is a 5,576-square-foot Greek revival home.
Edgartown library director Ann Tyra said yesterday the new property would provide ample room for parking and for the construction of an addition to the existing library building. The Captain Warren House would be renovated with an eye toward hosting classes, meetings and various other programs.
The special town meeting is set for Tuesday, August 31.
The Edgartown selectmen set the date at their regular meeting this week.
The special town meeting comes as the result of a resident petition asking that the question be put to voters. Such petitions must be signed by at least 200 Edgartown residents.
If the purchase is approved, voters also will go to the polls Sept. 2 for a special election to override Proposition 2 1/2 in connection with the purchase. The warrant article asks voters to approve $3.5 million for a purchase, although the property is listed with Conover Real Estate at an asking price of $3.85 million.
Both the Captain Warren House and the Daggett House Inn were bought in February by longtime seasonal resident Burke Ross. Mr. Ross is converting the Daggett House to a private residence.
The library trustees have been eyeing the Captain Warren House property since the late spring, when word first spread that Mr. Ross might put it on the market.
Ms. Tyra said that earlier this week they put an offer on the table.
Ms. Tyra would not comment further on the state of the negotiations, saying only: "We would like to go to town meeting with a done deal, with an agreement between the owner and the town."
Gerret Conover said yesterday that several parties have expressed interest in the property.
"Down the road the library intends to apply for a grant from the commonwealth which, if it happens, will pay up to 43 per cent of the cost of the land and eventual cost of construction," library trustee and planning committee member Richard Fenn said yesterday.
"The present library building would not be altered at all. It is architecturally interesting and an important part of the community," said Mr. Finn. "But the project would include the preservation of the [Captain Warren] house and an addition onto the present library that would extend onto the property next door."
The last significant construction at the Edgartown library took place in 1975. "We are overdue," said Ms. Tyra.
"This is a wonderful opportunity for us and the only way the library can expand while staying downtown. Right now we are desperate. We have almost no parking, we are overcrowded - it is not conducive to sitting down and just leafing through a magazine."
The library is beginning to distribute surveys asking for public suggestions about changes to the library.
"This is the time to influence the project, no matter what happens," said Ms. Tyra. "We want people to tell us how they use the library now and what they would like to see."