Letters: Discussion Needed on Youth Center Sale

By Ken SwiatekLetter to the Editor
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To the Editor:

On March 30, 1966, a group of Williamstown's forefathers, James Drummond, Morris Phelps, Filmore Baker and John Denelli, acting as the Williamstown Board of Selectmen, granted a former town-owned school building located on Cole Avenue to the Williamstown Boys Club, aka, the Williamstown Youth Center. However, "The premises hereby conveyed are restricted to use for the purposes of a boys' club."

When the Williamstown Youth Center, a private, non-profit vacated and abandoned the building and land located at 270 Cole Ave. last year, did the building legally revert back to the town of Williamstown?
On Feb. 11, 2013, the current Board of Selectmen for the town of Williamstown, scheduled an "emergency" special town meeting for Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2013, at 7 p.m. using the absolutely minimum legal notification time frame in order to vote to remove the 1956 deed restriction and grant the youth center the right to sell what otherwise may be a town-owned building on Cole Avenue.

Why has this significant event slipped under Williamstown's radar? The former school building on Cole Avenue appears that it could accommodate six units of badly needed housing. There is already water, sewer and electric in the building. It would not require huge sums (read million$) of $$$ to build a road and to extend utilities to this property, nor would it be nearly as expensive to convert this building as was converting a former church. It could be converted into affordable housing in far much less time than any other parcel of land under consideration.

Yet, Williamstown's Board of Selectmen, its Affordable Housing Committee, and the Williamstown Affordable Trust have all been deadly silent on promoting an open townwide discussion on using a town-owned building for what has been repeatedly described as the town's most critical need? Why the silence? At minimum, there should be a townwide open discussion over a few months as to whether or not the best use of 270 Cole Ave is for 6 units of affordable housing in the heart of town.

This discussion is being denied to the citizens of Williamstown by the nature of the hurriedly scheduled "emergency" black-op special town meeting scheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2013, at 7 p.m. at the Town Hall.

Ken Swiatek
Feb. 25, 2013


Tags: affordable housing,   letters to the editor,   municipal property,   youth center,   

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