I live on Stratton Road in Williamstown with my fiancée. Prior to Hurricane Irene I lived at 72 Champagne Avenue in the Spruces. I feel this gives me a unique perspective on the divided issue here in Williamstown. I have friends who still live within the Spruces. I enjoyed my time living and being a part of what has been referred to many times as the Spruces "community."
Like many others, I lost my home and had to pay to have it demolished. This was a day that was hard to forget. I understand the need for affordable housing, but I also realize the importance of preserving land that has already been designated as being conservation. I walk the Lowry property extensively and believe it to be one of the most beautiful pieces of property in Williamstown.
There are other properties to be considered for development. The Photec and Cable Mills are two such properties. There is no doubt that these are eyesores. It appears to me that the town representatives could work toward solving many issues facing the community.
First, existing town properties can and should be cleaned up and enhanced to make them suitable for the development of affordable housing. Second, those lands already designated as conservation lands should be respected and protected for future generations. It would be tragic to lose such beautiful open space. Once it is gone, it is gone forever.
Other issues are at stake here, such as farmland and family business. Our governor has pledged to preserve farmland and protect open spaces. The Lowry property is used in the raising of local beef. That business could be put in jeopardy if this property is lost to development. Williamstown takes great pride in Berkshire-grown products, an industry that should be nurtured, not discouraged.
I believe that the town can clean up some abandoned properties and give them life while providing affordable housing to displaced residents of the Spruces and others in need without taking away from valuable open space that would be gone forever. It is important that our community come together and vote on April 24 at 7:30 p.m. at Mount Greylock Regional High School in favor of the continued conservation in whole of this land.