Alley’s General Store will likely remain closed throughout the summer, representatives for the Vineyard Trust told the West Tisbury select board on Wednesday, walking back prior suggestions that the store would be open during the season.

Historic building is owned by the Vineyard Trust, which has experienced significant upheaval this spring. — Ray Ewing

Citing a laundry list of previously unknown structural, electrical and plumbing issues with the historic Dealers in Almost Everything in the heart of the West Tisbury town center, including deteriorating floors, broken coolers, malfunctioning plumbing and mold, acting Vineyard Trust CEO Sally Rorer said the summer was probably a wash for Alley’s.

“I’m sorry to say, it is unlikely the store will open this summer,” Ms. Rorer said during the board meeting Wednesday. “I wish I had a better report for you.”

No date was provided for the store’s expected re-opening.

The select board had raised concerns about the state of the shuttered institution last week and invited the Trust to attend their meeting.

“Everyone is working as hard as they can, and long hours, to get the work done, and put Alley’s back in operation,” Ms. Rorer said. “When that happens, Alley’s will be a fully functional general store with no interruptions in goods and services to our community.”

The store closed for renovations in April after the Vineyard Trust awarded a lease to Michael and April Levandowski, the owners of the Le Roux home goods store on Main Street in Vineyard Haven.

Mr. Levandowski is a board member of the Vineyard Trust.

At the time, Vineyard Trust CEO Funi Burdick said she expected the management transition to occur over a couple of weeks. Last month, with the shop still closed, Vineyard Trust board chairman Patrick Ahearn said the intent was to have the store open during the summer.

But after a brief liquidation sale around Memorial Day, the store has remained shuttered with little word about its reopening. Town administrator Jen Rand told the select board last week that she had received a vague email after inquiring about the store, prompting the select board to meet with Vineyard Trust management.

A sign that has been posted on the Alley’s door all spring says: “Temporarily closed for a fresh start. See you this summer.”

The post office inside the store has been open throughout the closure.

Meanwhile, the Vineyard Trust, a preservation nonprofit that owns 20 historic properties on the Island, has experienced significant upheaval in recent weeks after the discovery that applications for public funding requests for two other Trust properties had been altered. Ms. Burdick has since resigned, and Ms. Rorer, a board member, was appointed interim CEO.

But with the dust still unsettled, Ms. Rorer provided a new assessment about Alley’s on Wednesday, saying that the significant structural problems with the store only became apparent in May.

“The store was closed during the pandemic, and when Michael [Levandowski) was finally able to have access to the building in mid-May, he encountered a myriad of issues, none of which any of us was really aware of . . . rendering the building non-functional,” Ms. Rorer said.

In fact Alley’s was primarily open during the pandemic, with strict masking and social distancing rules in place. The store was operated by the Trust before the lease changeover.

Post office remains open, but no coffee at Alley's this summer. — Ray Ewing

Ms. Rorer said the newfound structural problems, coupled with summer supply chain issues and the three weeks necessary to fully provision the store once work is complete, made it unlikely the store could be reopened before Labor Day.

The announcement came after Ms. Rorer met with town administrator Jennifer Rand, select board member Kent Healy, Mr. Levandowski and Trust board member Debi Crews earlier Wednesday to assess the property.

“We were able to see firsthand the challenges we face,” Ms. Rorer said. “No one wants Alleys to open and return as the mainstay of the village, more than the Trust. We realize it’s important in everyday life and the frustration the community feels in not having it available.”

At the meeting Wednesday, selectmen absorbed the news with neutrality, thanking the Trust for the communication and saying they understood the challenges facing construction work in the summer.

“Sorry to hear about the troubles that you’re having, and . . . somewhat understandable obviously in light of the pandemic,” said selectman Cynthia Mitchell. “I would just ask that in the future you keep us posted. I don’t know how else we could have found out except through you guys that you were experiencing these issues. But it would have been helpful to know sooner.”

Ms. Rorer said that a month prior, the Trust had hoped to have a soft opening, but had since decided it was untenable.

“It became evident that it was really not practical or efficient to do so, so our apologies for not reaching out to you sooner,” Ms. Rorer said. “But at this time I guess it’s fair to say that we have a better grip on things than we did a month ago.”

Select board chairman Jeffrey (Skipper) Manter, 3rd suggested the Trust provide a monthly email update on the status of the store.

Ms. Mitchell also made it clear that she did not intend to criticize Mr. Levandowski.

Trust board member Debi Crews emphasized that point.

“There have been people that have been very critical of Michael and April, and not nice to them at all in the grocery stores and restaurants,” Ms. Crews said. “When you’re taking on a project this size, and you start to see all these problems that you were really blinded by, it’s very overwhelming . . . If you see [Michael] out, just say we’re excited that you’re taking this project on, and he would really appreciate it.”

Mr. Manter accepted the challenge head-on.

“We’re looking forward to them taking over,” he said. “If they need any assistance, I used to stock shelves in the late sixties. So I think I remember where stuff goes.”