On “Ugliest Building” Removal, Town Counsel Says Not So Fast

The so-called “ugliest building on Nantucket” – the town’s temporary trailer next to the old fire station at 131 Pleasant Street – had its permit rescinded by the Historic District Commission late last month.

But while the HDC wants to see it gone – as  do many community members – it likely is not moving anytime soon.

Nantucket’s Town Counsel from KP Law has weighed in with an opinion that the original permit granted by the HDC to the town to move the trailer to the Pleasant Street property falls under Gov. Charlie Baker’s COVID-19 related legislation. That bill allows local permits issued prior to the state of emergency to be tolled until it was lifted.

“That gives us an additional 462 days from the permit date of expiration,” Town Manager Libby Gibson said. “We haven’t totally evaluated what it is we’re going to do. Options range from leaving it there within that time frame, which we can do legally, to getting quotes and finding funding to demolish or remove it. But if it’s not there, we no longer have the meeting space that we were planning to give to all of our boards, committees and commissions.”

In a contentious meeting, the HDC voted 4-1 in late September not to grant the town’s request for an extension of its permit to move the building onto the property.

The mobile trailer had previously bounced around the island in multiple locations with various uses, including as a classroom at the elementary school, and as Miacomet Golf Course’s temporary clubhouse. Two years ago, with municipal leaders searching desperately for additional meeting space, the town administration sought a temporary permit to move the building to 131 Pleasant Street, adjacent to the old fire station that had recently been vacated. The Historic District Commission voted to approve the town’s request, and the trailer was moved to its current location and installed into the property at a cost of more than $225,000. But when the pandemic hit, in-person meetings were prohibited, and the trailer has sat empty ever since. With Nantucket residents and visitors decrying the sight of the trailer at one of the busiest intersections on the island, an additional $24,500 contract for landscaping to shield the structure from view was approved in July, but the plantings have not yet been installed. 

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