Looking ahead to 2020 in Williamstown

What remains of the former Photec Mill, seen here Dec. 10, will soon become part of an affordable housing project on Cole Avenue in Williamstown. Construction is expected to start in 2020.

WILLIAMSTOWN — Road work, new housing and the start of construction for a bike path are all in the cards for the "Village Beautiful" in 2020.

But first, according to Town Manager Jason Hoch, the town will be bidding several long-term employees goodbye.

During the first quarter, Treasurer Janet Saddler, Director of Public Works Tim Kaiser and Town Clerk Mary Kennedy are all scheduled to retire. All three have served in their posts for decades.

"Decades of experience will be leaving when they retire," Hoch said. "That's a major organizational change."

Fortunately, the retirements have been well planned for, and experienced replacements are set to take over their duties. Two have already started training.

"We've had the luxury of time to train them in these positions," Hoch said.

The bike path is still in planning at the state level, Hoch noted, but he is hopeful that work on the path will begin by the end of the year, with completion anticipated in 2021.

"We are still working through that process and I'm confident it will happen," he said.

The path is set to begin at the Hoosic River at Simonds Road and proceed along the river through Linear Park and into The Spruces, where it will eventually connect to another section of bike path through North Adams.

It is a Mass DOT project and will be funded by the state.

Meanwhile, town officials will be working with fire department and Prudential Committee members on moving forward in the effort to build a new fire station. The old station has been identified in two different studies as being an obstacle to reducing the town's fire risk factor because it is too old and too small.

"I am glad that there is a growing sense that people understand that a new fire station is needed," Hoch said. "So we'll be seeing more of that conversation in the coming year."

Town officials are also anticipating a rebuild of South Street during the coming construction season, he noted.

Hoch described it as "not the easiest project to put in place." The neighborhood has seen a number of major construction projects with The Clark and Williams College, involving lots of heavy machinery that has taken a toll on South Street.

And in the spring, Hoch said, Williams College will likely tear down the old Williams Inn in preparation for a land use that college officials have not decided on yet.

Also this spring, it is anticipated that construction will begin on 41 affordable housing units at the site of the former Photec Mill on Cole Avenue, another project that has been in the works for years.

"To get that property out of the town's hands and turn it into something productive is really exciting," Hoch said.

Scott Stafford can be reached at sstafford@berkshireeagle.com or 413-629-4517.