Don't let the 'haves' get their way

Thursday April 4, 2013

In regards to the proposal to use a portion of the Lowry property in Williamstown for affordable housing, it appears to me as clear as day that, once again, the "haves" and "have nots" are locked in battle.

Historically, those less fortunate souls that inhabit this lovely town don’t have the greatest track record of being victorious against the formidable foes of wealth and power. However, it is my hope that this time they will somehow beat the odds and one third of the Lowry property will be developed for desperately needed affordable housing.

Bravo to Peter Folin for "suggesting that maybe we could spare 10 (acres) for our most endangered species: human beings." Apparently, one concerned citizen is suggesting that Peter "must well know that much more than the land alone is affected when it’s current use is changed in such a dramatic way, including and especially for those ‘human beings’ who live in our town and around the property itself."

The key phrases to take out of that statement are "much more than the land alone" and "around the property itself." My speculation about the "much more" part is that a small number of the current abutters would be deprived of having a private parkland and, oh my, see some houses in the distance out their windows, or maybe some exaggerated idea that their housing values would drop precipitously. "Around the property itself" simply reeks of NIMBY.

As for all the rest of the "human beings" that live in our town, I ask you: Have you ever visited the Lowry property, and would you even be able to locate those "three dedicated parking spots"?

I particularly enjoyed reading a letter from a concerned Vermonter. She describes the property as being "breathtakingly beautiful in any season by anyone’s measure" and it’s current use is "a rare treasure for the community and their neighbors."

Then again, she goes on to say that she boards her horse nearby and rides the trails several time a week. That should be of great interest to all the residents of the Spruces that saddle up! Open space is a wonderful thing and its preservation should no doubt be given the greatest consideration before anything is done to alter it. I have complete confidence in the capability of our town management to treat this project with the attention and respect it deserves. The details can always be worked out. Just because there’s never been an "Irene Cottage" built is a shallow argument and I find it hard to believe that any hay production lost could not be replaced without too much of a carbon footprint increase.

The former Spruces will go to good use. All these issues are just red herrings hiding the truth behind a veil of the selfish concerns of a few.

Please, spare me your tears. I’ll save mine for the folks who lost everything in a flood.

This is an incredible opportunity to finally do something significant for some of our less affluent Williamstown residents who had the misfortune of being on the losing end of a hundred-year storm. This project will not only help those who need it now, but others will surely benefit from it well into the future. Careful use of the funds provided through the Hazard Mitigation Grant combined with a sensible plan developed with the cooperation of all those involved will most certainly result in a positive outcome. There has never been a better chance for the townspeople to show that they believe in the greatest good for the greatest number of people.

Please attend the Special Town Meeting on April 24, make a little effort that will mean a lot to many. Proudly raise your hand to support the warrant article transferring the "care, custody and control of a portion of the Lowry property" to the Board of Selectmen for the restricted purpose of developing affordable housing. R.P. BERGMANN



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