WILLIAMSTOWN -- Williams College President Adam Falk announced Thursday the college has selected a team of four organizations to develop affordable housing on four acres of donated college land.
Calling it a marvelous day for the college and community, Falk said it's is one step in addressing the town's well-documented need for housing. One housing project won't meet the community's entire need, Falk said, and explained that the town will also continue to investigate other sites for the construction of affordable housing.
"But with this wonderfully well-suited land and with this experienced and well-represented team," he said, "we can as a community take satisfaction of the fact that to compliment the public efforts under way, we've taken an important step toward addressing this communal need."
The college will donate a four-acre parcel adjacent to the 60-unit Proprietor's Field housing complex on Church Street, Falk said.
The groups combining efforts are the Berkshire Housing Development Corporation, local nonprofit Higher Ground, the Williamstown Elderly Housing Corporation and the Women's Institute for Housing and Economic Development.
"Together, this group brings considerable experience and deep ties to our community," Falk said.
Higher Ground, formed after Tropical Storm Irene devastated The Spruces Mobile Home Park in August 2011, initially approached the college about acquiring the site for replacement housing for The Spruces, he said.
A consultant hired by the college confirmed the parcel is uniquely suited for affordable housing, Falk said.
"It not only abuts current affordable housing," he said, "but is clean, in town and on a public bus route; and near the senior center, for one set of potential residents, and across the street from the elementary school, for another."
"[The development] is going to be responsive to the site, the neighbors, and is going to take a big bite out of the shortage of housing in town," Berkshire Housing Development Corporation President Elton Ogden said.
Williamstown Elderly Housing Corporation Board Chair Brian O'Grady spoke about his positive experience raising a family in Williamstown, and the desire to give those opportunities to young families.
"Today we're talking about new homes from which new Williamstown memories and dreams will spring," he said. "We'll welcome new members into our community, while others will actually be able to stay here in town."
Ogden said the first step moving forward will be seeking community input.
"Trailing not far behind that, we'll be getting started on investing the site, and getting engineering and analysis done," he said.
Bilal Ansari, president of Higher Ground, thanked Williams College for their donation.
"It is our hope that some of the seniors who lived and who live in The Spruces find a home right here in Williams College's backyard," he said. "The vets, the retired public servants, the teachers, the local people who worked and served here for many years."
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