Reversing Earlier Decision, HDC Allows Town Trailer To Stay Put

Jason Graziadei •

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Reversing course from its previous position, the Historic District Commission voted 4-1 last week to allow the town’s trailer to stay at the lot next to the old fire station on Pleasant Street for another three years.

The trailer - used for much-needed meeting space - has been a source of controversy due to its appearance in a prominent mid-island location, even prompting one former town official to dub it the “ugliest building on Nantucket.” Against that backdrop, the HDC voted 4-1 last September to require the town to move the trailer to a different location.

But last Tuesday, the town’s operations administrator Erika Mooney spoke to the HDC regarding the town’s request to extend the certificate of appropriateness for the trailer to stay put where it is.

“Ultimately what happens with that site is up to the Select Board,” Mooney said. “They’re working through some different things and I cannot put a timeline on that. In the meantime, the town of Nantucket is extremely short-handed on meeting space and it has been used as meeting space for various committees and we’d like to continue to do that.”

This time around, with new members on the HDC, the vote shifted in the town’s favor.

Stephen Welch said that while he wouldn’t have voted to allow the trailer to go to that location in the first place, it’s there now and should be allowed to remain on a temporary basis.

“It’s serving a purpose,” Welch said. “I understand it’s not a pleasant looking building, and I’m not voting for it to be there in perpetuity,”

Val Oliver agreed.

“We spent a lot of money to move the damn thing there, it’s going to move, and it’s served this town well,” Oliver said. “And I think the whole thing is ridiculous. It should stay there, it's fine.”

The only HDC member who dissented was Diane Coombs, who initially suggested the trailer be moved to the area behind the police station, but ultimately dropped that request.

“Many, many people were appalled by this going in there,” Coombs said. “If you don’t care, then fine.”

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. Three 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 sat empty for most of 2020 and early 2021. 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 last July.

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