Housing Board gathers inspiration for next affordable housing

Fri, 04/09/2021 - 2:30pm
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Seeking ideas for the design of their next project, members of the Block Island Housing Board toured the Martin House development on Ocean Avenue during a special hybrid meeting on Tuesday, April 6. The part Zoom, part live meeting allowed the members to get a sense of the scope and scale of the development while following social distancing protocols and measures.
The board is seeking inspiration for the next affordable housing project that is to be located on West Side Road at an undeveloped lot across from Ball O’Brien Park (Plat 18, Lot 2-3).
At the Martin House, Chair Cindy Pappas said: “[We are] looking at three units to get a sense of size, floor plan, design, and placements.”
Members expressed interest in the smallscale size of the development, with the units laid out for both single residents and for couples.
“I like the architectural feel,” said member Millie McGinnes.
“I think this is an interesting shape, still functional, with outdoor living space,” added Pappas.
Then the board regrouped at the Ball O’Brien Park pavilion – across the street from the undeveloped lot – to discuss the
next steps for the project there.
“Thanks for everyone joining on the tour. It helps your creative juices continue,” said Pappas.
Members John Spier and Stacy Henshaw wanted the affordable housing project to include both ownership and rental options. An important consideration will be how the outdoor spaces are configured to allow for parking and solar arrays.
Pappas brought up the immediate need for a survey of the lot.
“Speaking of input from expertise, John did a little bit of research about surveyors. I have Dan Harrington who did the original survey for us.” Pappas added that Spier had a couple of firms referred to him by Town Engineer Jim Geremia.
“Geremia suggested these two firms as possibilities that could do the Class A survey that we need. That has got to be done,” said Pappas.
Pappas added that she had been contacted by architect Barbara Bestor of Bestor Architecture, after Bestor had read of their affordable housing project for West Side Road in The Block Island Times.
“I was solicited by architect Barbara Bestor [who] reached out to me after seeing [our discussion] in the paper about what we are trying to accomplish. She is a west coast-based firm and she summers out here and has come for years. She is coming to the island and wanted to get together,” said Pappas. “Barbara would be a great resource. Her style is to the more modern end of things, and she would be helpful on the ideas for solar. At this point she would like to see our site, and think outside the box.”
Pappas closed the meeting with a reminder about arranging for a survey to be done of the West Side Road lot as soon as possible and to schedule a meeting with the Town Council to discuss ideas and goals for the lot. Spier stated he would reach out to Harrington on survey work, and meet with Bestor at a later date along with member Kay McManus.