"The time is always right to do what's right", said Dr. Martin Luther King, in his second public appearance after being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964, as he delivered "The Future of Integration" speech to Oberlin college students, faculty and visitors. The overwhelming vote to take no action on the warrant articles at the April 24th Town Meeting proved to me that the fine citizens of Williamstown want to do what's right for their neighbors of The Spruces as approximately 100 elderly, low-income and disabled residents face their impending involuntary displacement and loss of their homes.
I live in The Spruces. Each day I give thanks that I live in this beautiful town filled with so many kind, generous and compassionate citizens. When Tropical Storm Irene devastated our jewel of a community and shook the lives of 300 residents you didn't hesitate to respond and lend your support. You aided us in navigating through those dark, desperate days and I will hold gratitude in my heart for you always.
Atop Mount Greylock on August 25, 2011, two of my neighbors and I were watching the sunset. The conversation was warming as we each iterated our contentedness, peacefulness and good fortune of living in such a special community as The Spruces. Little did we know that three days later all of that would be washed out from under us.
Faced with being homeless, we began the search for new housing with the expectation that we could remain living in Williamstown, the town we lovingly called home. Shockingly, what we found was housing that exceeded our affordability levels, did not meet our accessibility needs and one of the most important parts of our families, our beloved pets, were not welcomed. Of the approximately 200 individuals who could not return to their homes in The Spruces at that time approximately 10 have remained in Williamstown, some of them moving into assisted living. Many of those forced to live elsewhere still express the desire to move back to Williamstown.
The 100 residents who have continued to reside in the park after Irene are now faced with the same situation - how do we remain in Williamstown in a thriving community as we once had that meets our needs? And what a wonderful community we had - a vibrant, peaceful, safe place where many of us expected to live out our days. We would like to replicate that community living, have a small patch of green outside our front doors, plant a flower or vegetable garden and have the companionship of our pets without high density living as our only option.
My life is in Williamstown. I am a member of Wild Oats Co-op. I am a member of Images Cinema. I do what I can to remain civically involved. I strive towards green living. I care about my neighbors. I want to stay here. So now, in these extenuating circumstances, I and my neighbors look to you, the same citizens who brought us hope in 2011, to keep that hope burning by making available every possible resource for future housing exploration.