WILLIAMSTOWN -- A group of residents has petitioned the Board of Selectmen to call a special town meeting to place the Lowry and Burbank properties under more permanent conservation land restrictions.
Stratton Road resident Sarah Thurston presented the petition, which contains the signatures of 302 certified Williamstown voters, at Monday night's selectmen meeting. The petition calls for a special town meeting to discuss the 30-acre Lowry property and the 139-acre Burbank property, both located off of Stratton Road and currently under the Conservation Commission's jurisdiction.
"Each of these parcels has provided a valuable 26-year stewardship of open space under the care, custody, management and control of the Conservation Commission," Thurston said. "We are petitioning for this special town meeting to consider and vote on placing both parcels under a more permanent conservation land restriction.
Town Manager Peter Fohlin said the petition would be forwarded to Town Counsel on Tuesday for guidance on how to proceed.
In other business, discussion hovered on a proposed town meeting warrant article presented by Fohlin, asking voters to raise and appropriate $160,000 for the design and engineering for a new police station. The amount would compliment the $140,000 voters approved in a similar warrant article at Town Meeting in May 2012.
Fohlin presented a basic floor plan for a single-story, 8,736-square-foot facility,
Selectman Tom Costley raised concern over the proposed location, a piece of open land on the corner of North and Main streets currently owned by Williams College. Costley stressed the need for a public discussion period, citing many residents' interest in preserving open space.
Chair David Rempell agreed with the need for deliberations, but stressed the urgency for action and his preference of the warrant article going to Town Meeting.
"I would hate for us to start spinning our wheels and not move forward with doing something this community probably should have done many years ago," he said.
Costley and Selectman Thomas Sheldon, the only other two members of the board present, recommended the warrant article be placed on the board's next meeting agenda, allowing for public discussion.
In other business, the board approved a warrant article that would transfer the responsibility of Stetson Court over to Williams College.
The short, dead-end road off of Main Street and across from The ‘62 Center is bordered entirely by college-owned property, Fohlin said, and it makes sense for the College to have it in its possession.
"The road is, in fact, of no use to taxpayers of Williamstown, who pay for its maintenance and support and is of value only to the college," Fohlin said.
In addition, the street has technically trespassed on the College's property, he said, since it was reconstructed and widened in the mid 2000's with the cooperation of the College.
If voters approve the article, the town would turn over all maintenance, plowing and parking enforcement responsibilities to the College.
To reach Edward Damon, email email@example.com.