WILLIAMSTOWN -- A session run by Williams College students this week will seek residents' input on the town's open space and recreation opportunities.
Students will gather information at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 23 in the Harper Center at 118 Church St. to draft an updated Open Space and Recreation Plan.
Conservation Commission member Sarah Gardner explained that public participation is one of the biggest pieces of the process.
"We really hope a lot of people come out," she said. "We're open to all ideas. We want to hear from people what needs are met and aren't met."
Gardner also works as the associate director in the Center for Environmental Studies at Williams College and teaches in the Environmental Studies program.
Four juniors and seniors in Gardner's environmental planning course will receive course credit for completing the study.
The town's most recently accepted plan was created in the mid 1990s. An updated plan was created by students in 2005, but was not accepted by the Board of Selectmen. The state recommends a municipality update the plan, which takes inventory of all open space and any form of passive recreation in town, every five years.
A valid plan would make Williamstown eligible for state funding to create or improve recreation opportunities, Gardner said.
Students have created a survey that was mailed to 20 percent of town residents, she said.
"People should be getting that in the next few days, and we're asking people to mail it back by October 31," she said.
Wednesday's session is for people of all ages, Gardner said, including children and teenagers.
"We'll have copies of the survey there, and maps so people can see where these parcels are," Gardner said.
The Conservation Commission manages nine parcels of various characteristics, she said. The Hunter property in the northwest corner of town is heavily wooded forest with few trails and no frontage, while Margaret Lindley Park on Cold Spring Road is a popular swimming destination.
Gardner said the course allows students to gain real-world experience.
"It really teaches them how difficult it is to try to accomplish something," Gardner said. "It's easy when you're reading books to just know what should be done, but here they learn how they do it, or they learned the frustrations that come with that."
To reach Edward Damon,