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Williamstown Housing Committee Refining RFPs

By Stephen Dravis
Williamstown Correspondent
11:58AM / Saturday, December 21, 2013
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The housing committee hopes to have development proposals for two town-owned sites by late February.
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — The Affordable Housing Committee on Thursday made progress toward next month's solicitation of proposals to develop two town-owned sites.
If all goes according to plan, the panel wants to put draft requests for proposal before the Selectmen at its Jan. 13 meeting. If the board gives the green light, one or both requests for proposals could be published in the commonwealth's Central Register as early as Jan. 22.
The committee has been developing RFPs for the old town garage site on Water Street and the former PhoTech property on Cole Avenue.
On Thursday, it read through the documents drawn up with the help of Amherst-based consultant Connie Kruger.
Much of the deliberation dealt with the language itself. It was clear that the four members present wanted to make the document as simple and readable as possible.
But there also were a couple of substantive matters to attend to.
Most notably, the committee debated whether to give prospective developers a price tag for either property. The issue of whether the town will expect monetary compensation came up recently when a representative of the Affordable Housing Committee appeared before the Selectmen.
On Thursday, committee member Charles Bonenti argued that the RFP should come out of the committee with no price attached to either property.
"I disagree with that, and I don't think the Selectmen will go for that," Chairwoman Catherine Yamamoto said. "I think the Selectmen will expect some sort of compensation, especially for 59 Water St."
"Then have them put that in," Bonenti responded. "If they feel it should be in there, they'll put it in."
Although the housing committee has taken the lead in site prep and finding developers for each brownfields property, the town itself, through the Selectmen, has authority to name a developer and would ultimately issue the RFP.
The committee also changed language in the 59 Water St. RFP that dealt with the design of the project.
The draft on the table required the final development for the garage site to preserve pedestrian access between Water Street and Spring Street.
"But there's college land in between," Bonenti said. "How can any [developer] do that?"
In the end, the committee crafted language that notes the property's current role as a connector between the Water Street and Spring Street commercial districts.
The committee tentatively set three meetings for the first full week in January, starting with a 4:30 p.m. meeting on Monday, Jan. 6.
It hopes to have the final draft before the Selectmen one week later with an eye toward submitting to the state as early as Jan. 14, the deadline for the Jan. 22 edition of the Central Register. If that goes well, the RFPs could carry a Feb. 25 deadline, and the town could be reviewing sealed bids by the end of February.

Tags: affordable housing,   RFP,   

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