WILLIAMSTOWN -- The Selectmen have unanimously adopted a county-wide hazard mitigation plan, which will allow the town to apply for federal grants focused on lessening natural hazards.
Lindsay Errichetto, a planner for Berkshire Regional Planning Commission, said Monday night that the town was one of 19 communities to participate in development of the Berkshire County Hazard Mitigation Plan in 2010 and 2011. Since then, the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency and the Federal Emergency Management Agency have approved the plan, she said. The plan identifies natural hazards, existing protections that are in place to take care of those hazards, and action plans to address certain hazards in the future for the county and each participating community, she said.
"The final step is for all 19 municipalities to adopt the plan," she said.
Once Williamstown adopts the plan, it will become eligible to apply for funds from the Pre-Disaster Mitigation and Hazard Mitigation grant programs, she said.
Members of the Selectmen had several questions for Errichetto about the content of the plan, specifically the sections outlining flooding, beaver and dam hazards.
David Rempell, chairman of the Selectmen, said that in the plan, one of the flood-prone areas that was a concern was The Spruces Mobile Home Park. Since the document was drafted, that concern has been realized, he said.
"What kind of impact would a catastrophe have
Town Manager Peter Fohlin said it didn’t impact the plan.
"We always knew there would most likely be flooding at the Spruces," he said. "There is no practical mitigation for the Spruces."
Rempell said one thing he found frightening about the plan was the number of buildings in town that are in a floodplain.
According to the plan, 417 buildings, 375 of which are residential, are in the 100-year floodplain.
Selectmen Ronald Turbin asked what could be done about beaver dams.
Errichetto said beaver dams are a significant challenge for a good number of municipalities and that the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has recently released a number of beaver management resources, including grant funding opportunities, she said.
To reach Meghan Foley, email firstname.lastname@example.org