Hilltown Voices: Williamsburg to hold forum on public safety complex

  • Williamsburg Town Hall

For the Gazette
Friday, October 06, 2017

WILLIAMSBURG — On Tuesday, the town will hold a special information forum regarding the proposed new public safety complex.

Officials are strongly encouraging residents to attend the meeting, as a special Town Meeting will be held Oct. 16, at which voters will be asked to approve spending $30,000 for predesign services by hiring an owners project manager to assist the town in the planning process.

The forum will provide in depth information on the necessity of the project, design plans, size, and cost estimates, as well as allowing the public to ask questions.

At present, the plan calls for a 10,600-square-foot building to be constructed on the open lot of the Helen E. James School in the center of town.

The estimated price tag is $3.5 million. The town anticipates that $350,000 for the design and construction documents will come out of free cash, and $900,000 from the stabilization fund. This would leave $2.25 million that the town would borrow, increasing the tax rate by an estimate 64 cents for every $1,000, a rate that would decrease over the 20-year borrowing period.

According to town officials, the current police department, and its two fire departments — one in Haydenville and one in Williamsburg — are old and in such severe disrepair that they are unsafe and unable to accommodate staff, equipment, or vehicles.

The police department is housed in a building that is more than 100 years old and contains asbestos, mold and mildew. It has no private interview or intake rooms, no cells, an inadequate records room, and a booking room that consists of an open room with a bench sporting ankle cuffs, town officials said.

The fire department in Williamsburg cannot physically accommodate modern, larger heavier, engines to the point where a new rig has about an inch of clearance in the bay, officials reported. Concrete floors have progressively cracked and sunk significantly over the years, the ceiling leaks, there is no room for storage and the building has no accommodations for firefighters to sleep in the station when that need arises.

Besides attending the public forum, residents can go to the town’s website to find information and documentation on the public safety complex webpage at www.burgy.org/public-safety-complex-committee.

The forum is scheduled for 7 p.m. at the town offices in Haydenville. The special Town Meeting on Oct. 16 is set to be held at the gym in the Anne T. Dunphy School at 7 p.m.

Hilltown CROP walk

WILLIAMSBURG —The organizers of the Hilltown CROP Hunger Walk are celebrating the event’s 30th anniversary this year with a walk scheduled for Oct. 15 in Southampton.

CROP Hunger Walks are community-wide events sponsored by Church World Service and organized by local congregations or groups to raise funds to end hunger at home and around the world.

Organizer Jean York of the First Congregational Church of Williamsburg said that the event is held every year, with churches from several Hilltowns and some surrounding towns taking turns hosting the event.

This year the event will take place at the Southampton Congregational Church, located at 212 College Highway.

“Because this is our 30th anniversary, our goal is to raise 30 percent more than we raised last year,” York said, adding that last year’s total was $12,196.

York said that 25 percent of the proceeds will be distributed to local food banks, including the Hilltown Food Bank in Goshen.

People who sign up for the event raise funds by securing financial pledges from people to support their walk. Participants can choose between a 2-mile walk, or a shorter half-mile walk.

Transportation will leave from the Williamsburg Congregational Church at 1 p.m. sharp and registration will be 1:30 at the church in Southampton.

Refreshments will be served after the walk.

For more information, contact Jean York at 268-7020, Susan Snow at 268-3529 or Rodger Graves at 268-7960.

Eberhardt benefit concert

CUMMINGTON — Red House recording artist Cliff Eberhardt will perform acoustic country, blues and pop at a special Friday Night Café to benefit the Village Church in Cummington.

The concert will be held at the church on Oct. 13 at 7 p.m. and there is a $15 suggested donation.

The Village Church is located at 32 Main St. For more information, call 634-5398.

Ideas for this column on life in the Hilltowns can be sent to Fran Ryan at: fryan.gazette@gmail.com.