WILLIAMSTOWN -- During their meeting Wednesday night, the Selectmen gave unanimous approval to a group trying to have a portion of town designated as a cultural district.
Resident Fran Lapidus was present at Wednesday's meeting to explain the Massachusetts Cultural Council's Cultural Districts Initiative, which gives a special designation to areas of a town to help the local arts and humanities community.
"In doing that, I think it will really highlight all the wonderful things that Williamstown provides year-round, not just in the summer," Lapidus said. "It's going to be nothing but a good thing."
According to the Massachusetts Cultural Council website, the special status has been granted to 14 districts, including one in Pittsfield and Shelburne Falls.
Lapidus said conversations between her, Town Manager Peter Fohlin and Selectwoman Jane Allen about where the potential district would be centered on the area of the Williams Inn, Main Street, Spring Street and Water Street. One of the major highlights could be Williams College, she said.
"The campus itself represents historic architectural designs," she said. "Each major building along Main Street in Williamstown represents a particular historic architectural time that it was built."
The designation opens up opportunities for state money, she said, and the town would have a minimal financial obligation after the designation.
"If we're designated, the state provides signage," she said. "There is money for publicity, and we get designated in cultural literature about the state. There's money for lighting and sidewalks, if they feel we qualify for that."
Having the designation would also benefit local artisans financially.
"Anything that we sell within our area, that is made in this area, is going to be tax free," she explained.
The biggest challenge to receiving approval from the council, Lapidus said, is leg work.
"There's a lot of hoops and ladders to go through to get it designated," she said.
Selectman David Rempell explained the first part of the process would be advertising a hearing regarding the process, and voting on an official proclamation.
"I think this is a win-win for the community," he said of the proposal.
The board also reorganized itself.
Following a nomination by Selectman Tom Sheldon, Selectwoman Jane Allen agreed to serve as chair of the Board of Selectman for the next year. Allen was serving as vice-chair.
Selectman Ronald Turbin accepted Sheldon's nomination to serve as vice-chair, and new Selectwoman Jane Patton agreed to serve as secretary.
Sheldon thanked Rempell, who served as chair this past year.
"It's been a challenging year, and your chairmanship has been exemplary," he said.
In other business, the Selectmen:
Approved the water and sewer warrant for $183,780.21.
Appointed Patton as the Board of Selectmen representative to the Public Safety Building Study Committee.
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