Tout Videos: Affordable Housing definition Part 1
WILLIAMSTOWN -- Walking trails, outdoor community space and riverfront access are just some things residents would like to see someday at the PhoTech mill site.
At the Affordable Housing Committee's recent community meeting, roughly 40 residents provided input on the Cole Avenue brownfield site. Attendees stressed that any affordable housing development at the former PhoTech mill site on Cole Avenue needs to reflect the existing Mill Street neighborhood and preserve river access.
The former PhoTech mill went unused after being abandoned by its owners in the late 1980s. Today, only a single concrete structure known as "The Cube" exists on the 4.8-acre site next to the Hoosic River. Roughly $2 million has been spent removing heavy metal contamination at the site.
Last Thursday's community meeting was facilitated by a team of consultants -- Connie Kruger, of Amherst, and Jennifer Goldson, of Boston -- the AHC hired to create requests for proposals (RFPs) that would eventually be conveyed to housing developers.
Attendees were asked to submit demographic information, and at one point, their visual preference among pictures of housing projects. The evening culminated in small-group discussions, where people discussed advantages and challenges to the site, features that should be preserved and what they'd like to see on the site four years from now.
Some group leaders raised the issue of flooding on the site, as part of it lies in a 100-year floodplain.
"One person in our table [who lives near the site] noticed that Tropical Storm Irene flooded most of the area and he thinks that therefore most of the area considered is actually a floodplain and should not be developed," group leader Rich Shotwell said.
"Our table felt the site was equally good for families or seniors," Tim Cherubini said. "In terms of [what we'd like to see in 2017], we were envisioning a place with sidewalks, trees, outdoor space -- someplace where people that don't live there can walk through and also enjoy. We wanted to see people coming and going and congregating."
Cherubini and other group leaders reported residents want to see something that's in the character of the existing Mill Street neighborhood.
"In terms of the structures themselves, we had the idea of something that's not too ‘blocky' but also something that could provide for some higher density of people," Cherubini said.
Residents had mixed feelings on either tearing down or renovating the remaining PhoTech building.
"Really we came to the conclusion that our group didn't have a strong attachment to the cube," Isaac Hoenig, a senior at Williams College, said.
Both Kruger and Goldson will meet with the AHC on Wednesday, Oct. 23 to go over information from both sessions. The two consultants will then create RFPs for both sites based on residents' input, which will then be issued to developers.
A draft RFP would be brought to the committee in November and a final version would be issued to developers by December.
To reach Edward Damon,