WILLIAMSTOWN -- The Finance Committee will not recommend voters allocate funds to the Save the Spruces group at town meeting on May 21.
At Thursday’s meeting, the committee unanimously voted against warrant article 38, which appeared from a citizen’s petition from residents looking for funds to purchase the park. The article requests $365,000 from the town to help the residents form a tenants cooperative and purchase the park from owner Morgan Management.
"I think it would be a horrible investment based upon the information from Public Works, and from [Town Manager] Peter Fohlin," member Paula Consolini said.
Members also expressed concern about the sources of funding -- the article proposes relocating $200,000 from funds requested by the Affordable Housing Trust (AHT) from the Community Preservation Committee (CPC), approximately $65,000 intended to be allocated to the Youth Center, and $100,000 from the AHT’s existing balance.
Fohlin said the request for $200,000 was a "non-starter."
"No Community Preservation Funds can be appropriated without having passed through the CPC," he explained.
The committee also voted to not make any recommendation on two warrant articles concerning affordable housing and land use. Article 39, which proposes that votes on land transfers for the construction of affordable housing be done by a majority vote at town meeting, drew a vote of 5-2.
Chairman Charles Fox said he believed the article had immense financial implications, a statement member Andrew Hogeland disagreed with.
"I think this is purely a political question that will have a financial impact down the road, but we can’t predict that," Hogeland said.
Article 40, which would transfer 10.5 acres of the 30.5 acre Lowry property to the Selectmen for affordable housing purposes, drew a vote of 6-1. The lone vote for the committee to make a recommendation was cast by Fox.
The committee voted on other warrant articles with relatively little discussion.
K. Elizabeth Neely was the lone vote against recommending a request for $65,000 in CPA funds from the Conservation Commission for the drilling of a new well at Margaret Lindley Park. Neely suggested chemical toilets and bottled water be used at the park instead.
The committee voted to defer the vote to recommend article 15, called the Small Commercial Exemption, so members could study the issue more. Fohlin explained that if passed, the article would give small businesses with fewer than 10 employees and less than a $1 million in real estate a break on real estate taxes.
Selectmen will vote on recommending Town Meeting warrant articles at the next meeting on Monday, April 8.
To reach Edward Damon, email