Perhaps the firm kisses Dardanella (Muldaur) Slavin planted on each of her two lottery tickets before depositing them in the Chilmark affordable homesite lottery box Tuesday did the trick. Or it might have been a premonition Ms. Slavin had 20 months ago.
Ms. Slavin, 33, and her husband Sean, 35, won the right to purchase a 2.1-acre site at the High Meadows development, on which they plan to build their own house. The couple has a 20-month old son, named Quinlan.
The Slavins were among six finalists who attended an emotionally charged selectmen’s meeting along with family, well-wishers, press and representatives of the Dukes County Affordable Housing Authority, which oversees granting of affordable home sites.
Young Quinlan was startled to tears by an explosion of applause when the first name was announced. His grandmother, Shelia Muldaur, an Oak Bluffs teacher who lives on Meetinghouse Road in Chilmark, took her grandson from his mother and quickly calmed him.
Joyful tears streaked Ms. Slavin’s cheeks as she stood with her husband, a West Tisbury police officer, and accepted congratulations from onlookers and several other applicants. Then she recounted her odd premonition.
“Where we live now is within sight of the home site,” said the Chilmark native, as she recalled the events preceding the birth of her son, “and a little more than 20 months ago, late in pregnancy, I was out walking. I was standing on that very piece of land when my water suddenly broke.”
The Slavins will pay $40,000 for the land and finance the construction of their house themselves. Asked about his carpentry skills, Mr. Slavin smiled. “I’m okay, but I think I’m about to get a lot better at it,” he said.
Five of the six finalists attended the drawing. Several are veterans of the process. Deb Silliman and her husband Jeff Wass have done this 10 times. “I’ve been at it since the beginning. We were in the initial lottery. We keep hoping. Maybe this is the year,” she said before the drawing.
Jen and Lev Wlodyka sat in the second row. Ms. Wlodyka admitted to a case of nerves sitting next to her seemingly calm husband, a commercial fisherman who’s had experience with Island lotteries. Mr. Wlodyka landed a nearly 56-pound striped bass in the 2007 Striped Bass and Bluefish Derby to become one of four finalists to try the keys to a new truck, which he won. “I can’t believe how calm he is,” Ms. Wlodytka commented.
“I guess the derby lottery got me prepared,” Mr. Wlodyka answered.
In all, 11 tickets were deposited in the roof of a miniature house used for drawings. The lottery system requires that every ticket be drawn to establish an order of succession for the homesite award, should the winners not exercise their chance to build.
The number of tickets each applicant receives relates to criteria based on whether the applicant lives in the town, has lived in Chilmark, works or volunteers in town. The Slavins received two tickets.
Should the Slavins decide not to purchase the homesite, the next up will be Jeff and Emily Day, then Cameron Perry, Danguole Budris, the Wlodykas, and Ms. Silliman and Mr. Wass.
The order of finish pertains to the High Meadows drawing only and does not establish precedence for future drawings, according to Terri Keetch, administrator for the Dukes County Housing Authority.
Selectmen, clearly moved by the scene, had opened their meeting with a quick review of the Middle Line Road (MLR) affordable housing plans. “We did that on purpose,” chairman Frank Fenner said. “Tonight we will have one very happy winner and five disappointed people, but we wanted you to know that more housing is coming.”
“The process is very, very complicated, but we will have at least 10 more affordable housing units available within 12 to 18 months,” Warren Doty told the audience.
At the meeting, selectmen approved a bidding process for digging 10 wells on the MLR site. They will advertise for bids on January 21 and plan to award the contract at their February 4 meeting.
In addition to the High Meadows site, the town has four homesites planned at Nab’s Corner and four homes and six rental units in the planning stage at the Middle Line Road affordable housing site.
In other news, the town will advertise its full-time receptionist/administrative post, which has been filled on a temporary basis for several months. Executive secretary Tim Carroll noted the ad included language advising candidates that the temporary incumbent is a candidate.
Recent open town positions have attracted large numbers of candidates, Mr. Carroll said. “We have had 27 candidates for each of the last two jobs we’ve advertised, and they were 30 hour a week jobs, not full-time as this is,” he said, adding, “I don’t think it’s fair to not let candidates know there is an incumbent candidate.”
In a non-agenda item, selectmen also developed a wish list of projects to submit to the state for funding following receipt of an e-mail requesting projects be submitted this week that may be eligible for the $775 billion economic stimulus package proposed by the incoming Obama administration.
Governor Deval Patrick last month announced plans to identify $1 billion in state and community projects eligible for stimulus funding. This week, selectmen noted that latest estimates say the state may receive between $3 and $4 billion, if the federal stimulus plan is adopted.
The state deadline for submission is today. Selectman initially agreed to include requests for projects at Chilmark School, the library and for rental units at the Middle Line Road affordable housing site. After discussion, selectmen agreed with selectman Riggs Parker’s suggestion to submit a request for funds to build a new firehouse, a project that has been on the town agenda for several years.