Spruces founder Al Bachand saw the park as a community, or little village, for retirees. Over the years, the park became an attractive option for those over age 55 on fixed incomes as housing prices and rents in Williamstown rose around them.
Housing advocates and local church groups sought to help the residents and seek new opportunities for affordable housing.
It identifies flooding at the Spruces as the town's No. 1 hazard.
It does not indicate where the residents would be moved other than "All residents will be relocated to decent, safe and sanitary dwellings."
Two options are provided:
• Completely redoing all infrastructure and jacking up or rebuilding all units above the floodline at a cost of $10.9 million.
• Construct a levee and a pumping system at a cost of $15.5 million.
There are four prime spots under consideration. Two are brownfields, two are farmland.
The Affordable Housing Committee has been seeking appropriate locations for housing. While the Lowry land, originally purchased as a potential site for Mount Greylock Regional High School, is considered ideal, other locations under the town's control have not been ruled out.Higher Ground is also seeking ways to expand housing for seniors.
Lowry was purchased in 1956 for $29,000; Burbank was deeded to the town; Photech was taken for back taxes.
The Planning Board suggested in 2010 plans for developing the town garage site, but geared toward a more affluent clientele.
Voters will be faced with articles dealing with land & housing on April 24 and May 21.
Updates on other debate details:
The Army Corps of Engineers has rejected a request to study or involve itself in a project to alleviate flooding at the Spruces in part because the land is privately owned.
A number of residents have argued that since the Lowry land was voted by two-thirds vote to the Conservation Commission's purview in 1987, a similar vote is required to take it out. Town counsel's opinion is that the land was originally purchased for a high school, therefore it does not fall under the relevant state conservation law (Article 97) and does not require a two-thirds vote to be taken out of conservation.
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