Because people have wondered, the following is a summary of how the renovations at Lavender Hollow Apartments in Eastsound affected the tenants.
OPAL received a “Determination of Non-significance for the Wetland Enhancement Plan.” This included removing 60 trees. The determination was granted on the condition that trees would be removed by hand and an excavator would not be used in the wetland. OPAL violated the agreement and used an excavator. In late November, Julie Thompson of community development and planning came to the site and said that she didn’t see evidence of “tracks.” Recently, when I asked her if anyone affiliated with OPAL said an excavator was used, she replied that the project manager told her “no.” This, in spite of the fact that the tenants saw and heard the excavator in the wetland!
Some tenants had to vacate their apartments for a while. One family of five or six was put in a one bedroom, second floor apartment above a gravely ill tenant. The project manager assured me in a letter that the state and the feds were aware of this situation. I have since learned that they were not informed.
The job site had unbearably smelly water in uncovered, unfenced, four-foot deep holes six and more feet long for new sewer lines, debris and thousands of nails on the sidewalks and grass not removed each day. We called the building inspector and from that time on my gardens were systematically destroyed. My partner was physically threatened by a worker and the executive director told us “he brought it on himself by being “confrontational.”
The more we spoke up the more damage was inflicted on my gardens. Every imaginable construction debris was thrown on top of the plants, killing them. When I complained, I was told that, “OPAL will help with that” (compensation). In the end, the executive director said that if they paid me, others would expect compensation.
OPAL has lost its way and also its heart! The Board of Directors might consider closer oversight in OPAL’S endeavors in the future. If citizens don’t speak out about injustices, nothing will change in our society.