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Williamstown Housing Project Christened 'Highland Woods'

By Stephen Dravis
Williamstown Correspondent
09:19PM / Monday, December 09, 2013
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The town is dealing with a number of housing issues this week.
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — The new senior housing project at the end of Southworth Street has a name.
 
The non-profit consortium attempting to build replacement housing for residents of the storm-ravaged Spruces Mobile Home Park have decided to call the project Highland Woods.
 
Catherine Yamamoto of the Williamstown non-profit Higher Ground made the announcement Monday evening at the end of a brief and uneventful Selectmen meeting.
 
Yamamoto, who also chairs the town's Affordable Housing Committee, said Higher Ground, Berkshire Housing, the Women's Institute for Housing and Economic Development and Williamstown Elderly Housing decided jointly on the official title for what they hope will be a 40-unit project with a hoped-for opening date in early 2016.
 
"We tossed around a lot of names," Yamamoto said. "It never had an official name, that parcel, as far as we know.
"It's the Higher Ground project, so we'd like to keep that part of the name. And it's a very wooded site. Even when the project is completed, there will be a lot of woods."
 
Higher Ground and the other three non-profits accepted the nearly 4-acre site earlier this year from Williams College, which donated the property to help efforts to create affordable housing in town.
 
It is a busy week for the affordable housing issue on several fronts in town:
 
On Tuesday at 7 p.m., a special town meeting will consider whether the town should accept possession of the Spruces property as part of a federal Hazard Mitigation Grant.
On Wednesday at 5:30 p.m., the Affordable Housing Trust board of directors will meet to decide on a request from the Highland Woods consortium for $100,000 to support the project.
On Wednesday at 7 p.m., the consoritium will host a public listening session at Williamstown Elementary School.
On Thursday at 7 p.m., the Conservation Commission will meet to hear a petition from the developers for a resource delineation at the site.
 
The Selectmen had no housing issues on its agenda Monday night (Yamamoto's announcement came unsolicited from the floor).
 
The lengthiest discussion of the evening concerned a request from Cheryl Yarter of the town's Scholarship Committee to determine whether she has a conflict of interest in the performance of her duties on that panel.
 
Yarter informed the board that her granddaughter is applying for one of the scholarships administered by the committee.
 
The town generally awards grants in the amount of $1,000 or less for postsecondary education. The program is funded by voluntary donations from town residents.
 
The Selectmen found that Yarter indeed has a conflict of interest and should recuse herself from deliberations and voting on scholarship applicants, but it left the door open for her to continue doing clerical work to aid the committee.
 
"She is the worker bee of the committee, there's no doubt about it," Allen said.
 
In other business Monday night, the Selectmen OK'd the annual common victualler, automobile and liquor licenses for a number of area businesses and set the calendar for the 2014 town elections.
 
Nomination papers for town offices will be available on Monday, Feb. 3 for the following seats (with current holders): Selectmen (Allen and David Rempell), Williamstown Elementary School Committee (John Skavlem), Trustees of Milne Public Library (David Dewey and Kathleen Schultz), Housing Authority (Joan Simpson Burns) and Planning Board (Patrick Dunlavey).
 
The deadline for returning nomination papers will be March 25. The last day to submit petitions for articles on the town meeting warrant will be March 31. The deadline to register to vote at town meeting will be April 23. Town elections will be held May 13, and the annual town meeting will be May 20.

Tags: affordable housing,   Higher Ground,   

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