For the last 13 years, it is clear that at the regular Town Meeting, the Williamstown electorate rejects far more of the recommendations of the Board of Selectmen than they accept. Carolyn Henderson's letter (The Advocate, July 18) points out correctly that the current complicated and confused drama with regard to affordable housing has taken this disjuncture to a new low.
The special Town Meeting in April, and its intended vote on the status of the Lowry/Burbank property, was aborted by the carefully prepared argument of the selectmen that more information on the affordable housing issue was needed, and would be provided by Town Hall. Despite the appointment of several more committees, the information has not been forthcoming in any comprehensive way, and it must be said that many have the sense that a promise has been broken and a perceived earlier pattern of obfuscation and manipulation - coupled with a strange fixation on the Lowry and Burbank properties for affordable housing - continues.
This perception has been reinforced by the puzzling, and as yet incompletely explained current request to the Conservation Commission by the selectmen and the Affordable Housing Committee and Trust, that these properties be declared "surplus.
Given the urgency of increasing the stock of affordable housing in Williamstown, it would seem much more productive to focus (for now) on the Proprietors Fields opportunity created by the generous gift of Williams College to the Higher Ground group. Although based on limited evidence, there may be the opportunity to create perhaps as many as 75 units on that site, if the Higher Ground project is combined with College plans to expand their housing on the Proprietors Fields site.
Returning to the question of how we in the town are to become fully informed before the anticipated special Town Meeting this fall, it is clear that attending or watching the WilliNet coverage of all the various meetings is totally impractical, and also incomplete. Before respect for Town Hall sinks further, the Town Manager and the Chair, might consider appearing before the public twice monthly for questions and answers. The session might best be run as an open press conference, with ample opportunity for the audience to ask follow-up questions. I would guess that the size of the conference room in Town Hall would not be adequate for this event, given the large number of people who are already concerned about the need for, and the best path to increase affordable housing in Williamstown.
Nichols H. Wright