Oak Bluffs family wins Island Housing Trust lottery

The winners may now purchase a recently renovated three-bedroom house at a steep discount.

From left: Chairman of the selectmen Mike Santoro, Dukes County Regional Housing Authority executive director David Vigneault, Oneil Wilson, Claudia Murillo, their son Alex, and Island Housing Trust executive director Phillippe Jordi. — Photo by Sam Moore

Oak Bluffs residents Oneil Wilson and Claudia Murillo, and their 4-year-old son Alex, spent a good part of last summer in a tent.

This summer, thanks to a lottery sponsored by the Island Housing Trust (IHT) and coordinated by the Dukes County Regional Housing Authority (DCRHA), they will be living in a three-bedroom home on Richmond Avenue that they can now purchase for $225,000.

“This is always bittersweet,” DCRHA executive director David Vigneault said, just before announcing the lottery winner at Tuesday night’s Oak Bluffs selectmen’s meeting. “As happy as we are for the folks who win this evening, we also wish the best for the alternates.”

There were three pools of applicants, with primary consideration given to families of three or more who live or work in Oak Bluffs and qualify for “affordable housing,” e.g. a combined income of 80 percent or less of area median income (AMI) in Dukes County. Other pools were comprised of two or fewer Oak Bluffs applicants, and applicants from the other five Island towns.

Mr. Wilson and Ms. Murillo were the only applicants of the seven who were in the top-priority pool. Mr. Wilson is a chef at State Road Restaurant in West Tisbury, Ms. Murillo is a chef at Little House Cafe in Vineyard Haven.

“We’re really happy for the opportunity, and we’re very grateful to the [IHT],” she told The Times on Wednesday. Ms Murillo said she has lived on the Island for two years, and Mr. Wilson has lived here for five years. Mr. Wilson said his family had an extremely difficult time finding summer housing this past year, and spent part of it in a tent.

“It wasn’t too bad, because it was summer,” he told The Times on Wednesday. “But we couldn’t do it again.” Ms. Murillo said she was also indebted to Little House co-owner Jenik Munafo, who also helped her fledgling family find a place to lay their heads last summer.

“This is a wonderful place, and we really wanted to raise our son here,” Ms. Murillo said. “Now we can.”

“I want to thank the [IHT], and the donors of course,” Mr. Wilson said. The Richmond Avenue house was a surprise gift to the IHT when it was bequeathed to the nonprofit in 2014 by Lorraine and Napoleon Pinckney. “It was a complete surprise to us,” IHT executive director Philippe Jordi said. “We naming our legacy fund for planned giving after [the Pickneys] because of the leadership they showed.”

The land is owned by the IHT. The house will be stay “affordable” in perpetuity.

At Tuesday night’s drawing, Mr. Vigneault said he was hopeful that as more year-round rentals become available, more families will be able to live on the Island until they have an opportunity for homeownership. “These are people you work with, families that we know, and we will keep working to find them a stable place to live,” he said.

Mr. Jordi showed the selectmen “Truly Affordable: The Story of the Pinckney House,” a video that documents the deep energy retrofit done by South Mountain Co. “This will make their energy bills truly affordable, and also keep the house free of leaks and mold, making it a healthier place to live,” Mark Rosenbaum from South Mountain Co. said in the video. The work of Farley Peddler, the general contractor on the renovation, is also featured in the video.

Let the music play

In other business, selectmen unanimously approved a one-day wine and beer permit for the Martha’s Vineyard Music Festival, to be held August 6 at Waban/Dennis P. Alley Community Park. Concert organizer Erin Bayer Santos, business consultant and founder of MV@Nite, a website that promotes local events and local artists, had made two previous trips to the selectmen for approval. Initially she presented a two-day event, August 6 and 7, but selectmen asked Ms. Santos to come back with a plan for a one-day event, ideally in June or July.

Tuesday night, Ms. Santos came back with a plan for a one-day event, but remained committed to the August 6 date, with music from 12 pm to 8 pm.

Selectman Gail Barmakian, whose family owns property adjacent to the park, was not pleased with the date. “It’s bad, it’s really bad,” she said.

“I think it’s a very reasonable request,” selectman Kathy Burton said. “She’s responded to most of our concerns. August is popular, and maybe the concert will be popular.”

“Unlike Kathy, I only look at what’s best for the town,” Ms. Barmakian said, adding that she’d heard a lot of complaints from residents in the Waban Park area about the Martha’s Vineyard Sound Indie Music Festival, which has been held at the park in July for the past two years. “There are major activities in that park week after week. Is this a benefit to the town? There may be people that go and get the benefit, but as a town, I don’t see the need, especially that location. It’s really concerning.” Ms. Barmakian said she had a lot of questions about the plan submitted by Ms. Santos, and pressed for details like the number and location of Porta-Potties, the number and location of vendors, and how alcohol sales would be regulated.

Chairman of the selectmen Michael Santoro said those details would be up to the parks department.
”If we allow a liquor license for this, in some way it may be interpreted as a stamp of approval of the event, and I don’t want that,” Ms. Barmakian said.

Mr. Santoro said he didn’t hear many complaints about the Martha’s Vineyard Sound Indie Music Festival, and he was inclined to give his approval.

Selectman Walter Vail said he was impressed with the thoroughness of the revised proposal. “I can’t find any good reason not to give the go-ahead,” he said, noting that Ms. Santos still had to get the approval of the police chief, board of health, and the parks department.

Selectmen approved the one-day license 5 – 0.

On Wednesday, Ms. Santos told The Times she was looking to book nationally known recording artists from a wide variety of music, so the event would appeal to families and people of all ages. “People come to the Vineyard to have a good time, and in the ’80s it used to really deliver on that,” she said. “We have a lot of resources and talent here, and we’d like to do our part.”