95-year-old painter threatened with eviction from Cape Cod dune shack wins five-year reprieve

PROVINCETOWN, Mass. (AP) — A 95-year-old painter and his family threatened with eviction from the Provincetown, Massachusetts, dune shack they have helped care for and occupy for nearly eight decades have won a reprieve.

A legal team representing the painter worked out an agreement with federal officials that allows Salvatore Del Deo and his family to continue to live in and maintain the shack for five years, according to his son Romolo Del Deo.

The shack is one of a number dotting the more remote reaches of the Cape Cod National Seashore, located within the Peaked Hill Bars Historic District in Provincetown and Truro. The isolated shacks have no electricity or indoor plumbing and are prized for their uninterrupted solitude.

The family was abruptly evicted by the National Park Service during the summer when the agency opted to start a bidding process to let the public apply for up to 10-year-leases to occupy eight of the shacks. The shack occupied by the Del Deos was not among the eight, but could be included in future bidding rounds.

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Romolo Del Deo said the family opted to fight the eviction, in part because of their decadeslong connection to the shack.

“He’s painted at that location for 77 years,” Del Deo said. “His connection to the place is very, very deep.”

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The shacks have attracted artists, writers and thinkers for more than 100 years and are haphazard constructions by design, he said.

“The beauty of these places is that they kind of surf the sand,” he said.

He said that despite the eviction notice, the family refused to take their possessions out of the shack.

Ultimately the pro-bono lawyers working for the family were able to help negotiate a deal with the help of the Interior Department that will allow them to lease the shack annually for another five years.

Romolo Del Deo said those involved with the deal worked to wrap up the agreement before any government shutdown so the family could be back in the shack to celebrate the anniversary of the birthday of their late mother Josephine, who helped with the creation of the Cap Cod National Seashore,

“We’ve been hammering out an understanding and we are very pleased with the results,” he said. “We did not want to relinquish our presence there.”

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