Williamstown committee endorses community preservation projects


WILLIAMSTOWN -- The Community Preservation Committee is recommending voters fund four projects at this spring's annual town meeting.

The committee endorsed the measures, totaling $260,500, during a meeting last month. The funds would be provided through the Community Preservation Act.

The most expensive project, $100,000 to the Highland Woods senior housing project at the end of Southworth Street, led to much discussion before the committee ultimately signed off.

"I don't understand why this $100,000 is critical," member Jeffrey Thomas said. "You haven't articulated to me yet why it's make or break."

"In a year where we don't have $100,000 to throw around like we have in other years, were trying to be really disciplined with this," Town Manager Peter Fohlin said.

The Community Preservation Act, funded by a 2 percent property surcharge that Williamstown voters adopted in 2002, is meant to fund community housing, historic preservation, maintaining open space, and land for recreational use.

Berkshire Housing Development Corp. President Elton Ogden said the $100,000 for the housing project would decrease debt, making it more attractive to the Department of Housing and Community Development. The funds would also lead to a $30 per month reduction in each apartment's rent.

The committee also recommend voters fund three other requests: $75,000 from the Affordable Housing Trust reserves; $68,000 to the Williamstown Rural Lands Foundation for the "Fairfields Farm/Galusha Farmland Preservation Project" to preserve 220 acres of the family's dairy farm; and $17,571.14 to the Williamstown Historical Museum to preserve and exhibit historical items.

Members rejected $75,000 request from the AHT to help fund a "buy down" program.

"It's not clear where the remaining funds were going to come some," Thomas noted.

The committee previously voted down a $175,000 request from the Minerva Arts Center to help fund a multi-use community arts complex.

The committee will meet in March to review draft warrant articles which would go toward the annual town meeting on May 20.

To reach Edward Damon:


or (413) 663-3741 ext 224.

On Twitter: @BE_EDamon


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