To the Editor:
Island Elderly Housing would like to correct some information which has been reported about recent meetings of the Martha’s Vineyard Commission in relation to an IEH application to build five units of housing for low-income elderly, known as Aidylberg 3.
IEH has met the M.V. Commission’s checklist items for a DRI application as stated by the LUPC at their June 6 meeting. The reason IEH is before the commission is because IEH demolished a house on the property. We state again that we had a valid demolition permit. We received the permit on Oct. 24, 2019, and due to COVID, the permit was deemed valid thru July 18, 2021. This valid permit is public record. The commission’s own DRI policy states in part that demolition may be considered if it is clearly demonstrated that the building had fallen into gross disrepair, particularly through catastrophic mishap, which we demonstrated to the MVC with evidence of the insurance total loss. The MVC could have chosen to approve the demolition and not review the project, but as Michael Kim stated at the June 9 decision and deliberation, the demolition gave the MVC the opportunity to review the entire project.
It was reported that DRI coordinator Alex Elvin stated that he was not aware of any significant damage to the building: We sent Alex Elvin the documentation that we provided from our insurance company of their determination in 2015 that the building was a total loss due to the pipes freezing in the entire house, and with the house sustaining that significant damage and being closed up since then, there was mold. This information was provided through the MVC Applicants Submission, titled Financial Information Regarding Value of Former Building (Exhibit C).
It has been reported that leaders at IEH declined suggested changes in both style and energy efficiency: The suggestions made during the public meetings by the M.V. Commission included reducing or eliminating the interior corridors, moving the porches from Wing Road to the back of the buildings, eliminating dormers from the building, and breaking the building into two structures. It’s not that IEH didn’t want to take their suggestions. Rather, we believe, based on 45 years’ experience creating and managing elderly and disabled housing on the Island, that our design provides quality living for future residents, which includes skylights and dormers for natural lighting, interior corridors for elderly tenants’ safety and comfort so they wouldn’t have to go outside in inclement weather to access the laundry room, mailboxes, community room, and a front porch to allow tenants to be a part of the neighborhood community.
Furthermore, the IEH design complies with Energy Code 2015 IECC, and meets or exceeds all federal and state code requirements. Island Elderly Housing includes 18 buildings with 165 apartments whose electric generation energy needs are 100 percent solar sourced. We currently have excess solar capacity, which we would use at Aidylberg 3.
It was reported that MVC chairperson Joan Malkin had a condition that we take the design back to the drawing board: At the post-hearing LUPC meeting for Aidylberg 3 on June 6, Doug Sederholm stated in part that he was not comfortable designing things by committee. At this meeting, the LUPC subcommittee recommended approving our project with some conditions to the full commission, but did not include a redesign. However, at the M.V. Commission deliberation and decision meeting for our project on Thursday, June 9, Joan Malkin introduced a condition that IEH take the design back to the drawing board.
It was reported that MVC member Ben Robinson stated in part that a slight delay and an extra two to three months of extra design work would be worth the delay: We had advised the M.V. Commission, in a letter dated April 25, which is posted on the M.V. Commission website, that to redesign the project at this late stage would be a legal and financial burden, and cause undue delay, and create further costs in time and financial resources for a new proposal design which would need to be approved by the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development, among other entities.
Further reporting suggested that IEH repeatedly ignored suggestions for a redesign: We changed the septic and drainage design, the lighting design, and the parking design, as requested by the commission, and agreed with their suggestions on landscaping. Final building design and plans were reviewed and approved by the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) on August 17, 2021, as a Local Initiative Planning (LIP) 40B Project. Their review and approval included a site visit, and their approval was for both site and design. DHCD is the governing body of the commission.
Additional reporting states that the commission had previously expressed frustration over IEH’s refusal to consider less expensive construction alternatives: We chose quality, long-lasting building materials to allow for low maintenance costs. The lower the maintenance costs, the lower the rent for low-income elderly.
We believe it is worth noting that IEH is not only giving the land for this project, but IEH is providing the majority of the funding. This project is for the benefit of low-income Island elderly and their families. Our goal is to provide safe and secure housing which meets the specific needs of low-income seniors. Based upon our extensive experience providing such housing, we believe the Aidylberg 3 proposal accomplishes this goal, and will serve future seniors well.
We thank the Island Community Preservation committees and voters, Island housing professionals, many neighbors and friends for all their support for this project, and await a written decision from the commission on June 23, so we may move forward on this project
without burdensome conditions imposed by the commission.
Simone DeSorcy, president
On behalf of the board of directors of Island Elderly Housing, Inc.