Williamstown voters OK $850K high school study


WILLIAMSTOWN -- Annual Town Meeting on Tuesday signed off on a study that could determine the future of Mount Greylock Regional High School.

The Williamstown Elementary School Gym erupted with applause after the 380 attendees passed article 20, a request from the district to borrow $850,000 for a feasibility study on the school.

"A vote for a feasibility study is not a vote for a school building project," Mount Greylock School Committee Chairwoman Carrie Greene stressed.

The study, done in partnership with the state School Building Authority (MSBA), would determine several options for the 50-year-old building on Cold Spring Road, including a renovation or rebuild. The school serves 580 students from grades 7-12,

The state is expected to reimburse 53 percent of the cost, Greene said. The district plans to contribute $150,000 for the study; Williamstown would be responsible for $148,068 and neighboring Lanesborough, $98,712.

Lanesborough voters will act on a similar article on June 10.

Some discussion was spent on article 23, proposing a senior tax work-off program, before it was approved. The program will allow taxpayers over the age of 60 to earn up to $1,000 per year credit toward their real property taxes in employment by the town.

"I support this initiative because I've seen it work successfully in other communities," Selectmen Chairwoman Jane Allen said. "And to me it addresses affordable housing need in Williamstown."

Pam Burger, Williamstown Housing Authority member, said similar programs are offered by more than 150 municipalities in the state.

Resident Jeffrey Thomas noted he "loves the spirit of the article," but said the language of the measure was too vague and expressed concern over how it would be implemented.

Selectmen will draft rules for the program, the article's description states.

Voters also approved a fiscal 2015 town budget of $6.89 million, a 2.4 percent increase over this year, and authorized Town Manager Peter Fohlin to move forward in finding a developer for a solar installation on the capped landfill on Simonds Road.

Simonds Road resident David Loomis, addressing Fohlin through Moderator Adam Filson, said the proposed project was a "surprise to the neighborhood." Neighbors were told the land would remain open space, he said.

Town bylaws were amended to allow self-storage units in the limited industrial zone, to extend the planned business district to include several general residence-zoned parcels on Route 7, and use of temporary sandwich board signs by Spring Street businesses.

Attendees also voted to use $5.6 million for operating the Williamstown Elementary School, $292,610 to the Northern Berkshire Vocational Regional School District, and $4.725 million to the Mount Greylock Regional School District.

The Eagle's Edward Damon covered Tuesday night's town meeting in a live blog. Review the coverage here:


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