By JACK SHEA
“Every once in a while, you get a home run, a perfect project happens, and this is one of them,” said Willie Smith, sweeping his eyes over the Morgan Woods complex at the official ribbon-cutting on Friday.
“It doesn’t happen often, and it requires the community not only to accept affordable housing but be committed to it. That’s what happened here, and it’s becoming a national model,” said the 21-year veteran of nonprofit community housing construction. Mr. Smith is senior vice president of The Community Builders, Inc., a $1.6 billion national urban housing developer that contributed planning and fund-raising for the 60-unit, 21-building complex developed by Edgartown for Island residents. “I have a feeling this is just the beginning,” Mr. Smith said of the 12-acre affordable housing site.
Ted Morgan, former Edgartown selectman for whom the project is named, busily spent the entire afternoon deflecting praise to other people involved with the nine-year project, but the Morgan Woods prime mover was moved. “Amazing, it’s absolutely amazing, to see the idea become reality,” he said softly, almost to himself, standing by the road in Morgan Woods just before a procession of speakers credited Mr. Morgan, project proponent Christina Brown, the site construction company Williams Building Co. of Yarmouth, 4,000 Edgartown residents and a host of unnamed but appreciated Island workers who worked around the clock for a year so that Morgan Woods would open on time.
Jerry Dineen, site supervisor for Williams Building Co., which completed the project in 11 months, said, “We made it,” as he hugged Mr. Morgan. Mr. Dineen described the modular construction process to a reporter familiar with Island home construction that routinely takes a year for a single home. “We lost two months in the beginning but the deadline didn’t change. There were no roads in when we began but the boxes [modular units] began arriving, every Saturday morning at 6 a.m. We just followed A& F [the company that was contracted to do foundations, A& F Forms] from foundation to foundation with the drywallers right behind us.”
Alan Gowell, new chairman of the town affordable housing committee, observed the dedication. “Jerry and his crews were always here working, nights, weekends. Any time I came, they were here.”
The complex, sophisticated nine-year plan became clear as speakers trooped to the podium describing how the town worked with seed money venture capitalists, Wainright Bank, MassHousing and a host of state and environmental agencies and regulations. “I’d like to think this is how we do things in Edgartown,” Mr. Morgan said from the podium.
In the audience, one Island resident said, “We knew what we were working for. This was for our people, working people who need to be able to live here.”