Williamstown in 2002 agreed on a master plan that spoke to the need for more affordable housing. It identified a deficit of 164; the town has added 8 units since then but lost 150.
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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.
The town and Spruces residents have had issues with park owner Morgan Management. It began with debates over rents and, after Irene, lawsuits against the town and attorney general.
Morgan agreed to sell the property for $600,000, at a loss, to the town and drop the lawsuit.
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A plan comes
The town applied for a grant from FEMA
to buy the Spruces, close the park
and build housing elsewhere.
Not everyone is onboard.
Hazard Mitigation Grant Program
Not yet approved by FEMA
The $6,248,475 grant includes:
* $600,000 to buy the park
* Up to $1.485 million for relocation
* $3 million for affordable housing.
* $1.2 million for demolition and cleanup
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.