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Letters: Reuse Other Sites for Affordable Housing
Letters to the Editor,
10:44AM / Friday, April 12, 2013
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To the Editor:

Due to time constraints I was not permitted to speak at the recent Willinet Community Conversation Forum held at the high school on April 10. Here are the comments I would have made had I been given the opportunity.
Standing before you, I wish I would be able to cede my three minutes of time to four recently departed members of our community: Ray Warner, Esther Young, Henry Bratcher, and Sally Goodrich. At times like this, we sure could use their collective wisdom. I fondly recall working with Sally to form a townwide coalition that resulted in many of our precious lands being placed under conservation restrictions. I know of no better person than my late friend, Sally.
I think you may be able to grow great gardens on the Photech site by using raised bed gardens with imported soil.
On Nov. 13, 2012, Massachusetts announced a plan to build 10,000 units of affordable housing in the state. "Compact Neighborhoods complement smart-growth programs by providing incentives to encourage residential development near transit and town centers. The program will recognize communities planning ahead systematically for economic and housing growth, and will offer Chapter 40B relief and priority consideration in discretionary funding programs, such as MassWorks Infrastructure Program."
To paraphrase the late famous bank robber, Willie Sutton, who, when asked, "Why do you rob banks?" His reply was: "Because, that's where the money is." In developing affordable housing in Massachusetts, the money is in building in-fill housing in the center of town in Compact Neighborhoods.
What do Williamstown's own well thought out bylaws say about using Community Preservation funds and building affordable housing? "With respect to community housing, the Community Preservation Committee shall recommend, wherever possible, the reuse of existing buildings or construction of new buildings on previously developed sites" (from: Chapter 22, Williamstown Bylaws). This is not some relatively antiquated bylaw; it is fairly recent. Why is this bylaw being largely ignored?
Thank you for the opportunity to speak.
Ken  Swiatek
April 10, 2013
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