Letter: A consensus-builder as Williamstown planner

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To the editor:

We were opponents in a Williamstown election in 2016. Today, we jointly endorse Dante Birch for the Williamstown Planning Board. There is no question that Dante embodies the qualities and dedication needed to plan for Williamstown into the 21st century.

I, Chris Kapiloff, have known Dante for many years, first through Dante's work at Mass MoCA in bringing to fruition an important cultural asset in our community, and more recently in my Berkshire-grown business, Kapiloff's Glass, where Dante is a senior manager. Dante excels in the academic work of project management and puts his work boots on whenever the team needs him. His combination of humility and excellence is a valuable asset to the millions of dollars of projects that he oversees each year.

I, Anne Hogeland, first met Dante through his co-founding of Williamstown Community Voice, a grassroots group seeking to inform and engage all residents about issues directly affecting our community. When the Planning Board pushed a major rezoning project in 2018 for the two largest residential districts in Williamstown, General Residence and Rural Residence 2, Dante educated people in all neighborhoods about the proposals and their impacts townwide. Faced with thoughtful opposition, the board eventually abandoned these proposals.

I, Chris Kapiloff, live east of Williamstown's downtown. Dante lives in central Williamstown. I, Anne Hogeland, live in South Williamstown. We understand that everyone's voices need to be heard and efforts need to be devoted to our community. Among the three of us, we've lived here for more than 80 years. Chris' family spans four generations, Anne's three and Dante's two. We all care deeply about Williamstown, for all generations, now and into the future. Our schools need to adapt to our changing economy. We need to attract jobs, to keep our community vibrant, and to stem population decline. We need diverse housing options for people of all ages and income levels.

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The Planning Board is where we should all roll up our sleeves and get to work, bringing all our energies to meet our challenges. However, recently our board has suffered from internal divisions and strained relationships with the public. Fortunately, Dante is a healer and a consensus builder. His participation will bring a more balanced approach to the board, which is necessary to better serve our town.

We encourage all Williamstown voters to join us in choosing Dante Birch, Tuesday, May 14.

Chris Kapiloff,

Anne Hogeland,

Williamstown


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