The debate over whether to use 10 acres of town-owned land known as the Lowry property, located off Stratton Road in Williamstown, for affordable housing units is coming to a boil at a special town meeting requested by Stratton Road resident Sarah Thurston.
The Lowry property is being used as farmland. The crux of the problem is simple: Some local residents don’t want to disturb the current pristine and beautiful view and privacy the land affords folks, while others feel the need to accommodate The Spruces Mobile Home Park families being moved due to the flood. The issue being decided at the meeting is whether the land will be put under a more permanent conservation restriction or not. Conservation land cannot be disturbed for building housing units.
I think looking at a little of the history of the area might help. I grew up in Williamstown on Hamel Avenue in the 1950s and ‘60s, leaving after being drafted in 1968. The Spruces was owned by Al Bachand, who operated and maintained it. He also built an archery course in the fields behind our house near the airport runway. Mr. Bachand was strict and kept The Spruces nice. There was plenty of land to hike on and have fun on. The Spruces was a unique place for the time. Now, the Spruces residents need housing and nowhere in Williamstown seems to be appropriate to meet their needs.
Farmland vs. housing vs. development are examples of urban sprawl. Like it or not, that’s the issue here. If The Spruces’ current site cannot be used for housing, then why not find a place that is appropriate for their needs without destroying any pristine land?
Has urban sprawl finally hit home in Berkshire County? I think it has! You should see what’s happened to the Burlington, Vt., area. Pretty soon Burlington will gobble up all of Northern Vermont. Keeping Williamstown a "Village Beautiful" is in the town’s best interest. Keeping Stratton Road as it is, is the right decision.