WILLIAMSTOWN -- A town committee formed to advance replacement housing for Spruces Mobile Home Park residents will discuss the group's future at its next meeting.
Spruces Roof Group Chairwoman Jane Allen, who also serves as chairwoman of the Board of Selectmen, asked members at this week's meeting whether they felt the committee should continue meeting.
"I've heard from various people, both on the committee and outside the committee, wondering that given our mission, purpose and our goals, is our work finished, or do we need to continue to meet as a group," she said Monday night.
The eight-member committee was formed to bring boards and entities together to advance development of affordable housing for Spruces mobile home park residents, which was ravaged by Tropical Storm Irene in August 2011. Town officials saw a $6.13 million FEMA Hazard Mitigation Grant as a way to relocate residents to safe housing outside of a 100-year floodplain.
Conversation for replacement housing sites was focused previously on land under the Conservation Commission's care -- the 30-acre Lowry property on Stratton Road, acquired to build a high school in the 1950s and placed into the commission's care in 1987.
A debate on whether to preserve or develop the property led to a special town meeting in April, where voters overwhelmingly supported a "time out," requesting the issue be further studied.
Town boards, including the Board of Selectmen, have recently given support to a "non-controversial," private project for Spruces residents. The proposed project, a collaboration between nonprofit Higher Ground and other developers, would site housing on a four-acre parcel on Southworth Street donated by Williams College.
Members have met regularly this summer, collecting criteria for potential sites listening to presentations from visitors, and reviewing surveys and reports.
On Monday, Allen asked members what they felt the committee's role was moving forward.
Member Henry Art of the Conservation Commission stressed that part of the committee's mission is to make recommendations to the Board of Selectmen. Residents are eager to learn about what's been done during the collective time out, he said.
Allen said she will invite the Women's Institute for Housing and Economic Development's Deputy Director Mollye Wolahan to the next meeting, with a date to be determined. The developer is one of several involved in the Higher Ground project.
"Then maybe from that we'll be better able to figure out what our role should be moving forward," Allen said.
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