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Williamstown Preschool Still Waiting For Church Purchase
By Andy McKeever, iBerkshires Staff
04:53PM / Thursday, February 16, 2012
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WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — The Community Preschool has yet to close on the deal to purchase the former Methodist Church on Main Street.

Voter approved last year giving the school  $223,200 from Community Preservation Act funds to purchase the building under historic preservation. Officials are still waiting for a historic easement from the state to receive those funds.

"At this stage we have almost a complete draft of the easement [application]," Julia Munemo, co-president of the school's board of directors, said on Wednesday. "We're almost finished with that so realistically, we're looking at June."

During the summer, preschool officials said they were working with the town to write the application but with Hurricane Irene, the application took a back seat to other concerns. Now, the school is working on that application, which it will submit to the town for review and then to the state. Munemo said the state takes an average of 90 days to approve.

"There's nothing to really worry about it's just taking some time," Munemo said. "We're just waiting to cut through the red tape."

Meanwhile, there are some 25 families on a waiting list to attend the school and until the purchase goes through that is where they will stay. Munemo said the school has not opened up spaces for classrooms yet despite the certainty that the sale will go through. The classrooms would need code inspections, possible renovation and officials have not yet plotted out which room they will expand into first.

"We really want to get those people off our waiting list and into our classrooms," Munemo said.

Business is going well and there is no threat that the school will not be able to sustain itself, Munemo said, but it needs the CPA money before the deal can close.

Also last year, voters also approved $20,850 of CPA funds to repair the chimney on the 1753 House, which also has not been done.

According to Town Manager Peter Fohlin, the house was going to be repaired by volunteers but Fohlin later decided they should not for fear of liability. Fohlin is returning this year for an additional $4,000 in CPA funds to hire qualified stonemasons to do the job.

The third project voters approved last year has taken off with the South Williamstown Community Association continuing its efforts to fix broken stones in Southlawn Cemetery. Last year voters, approved $13,480 to continue the process and the society is returning again this year to keep it going.

The association is asking for $48,800 to complete all repairs. After this, the group said it will start an endowment for ongoing maintenance.
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