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Williamstown Garage Site Cleanup Pegged at $15K
By Stephen Dravis, Williamstown Correspondent
09:11PM / Wednesday, February 06, 2013
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The Affordable Housing Trust heard an update on additional cleanup at the old town garage site.

WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — The Affordable Housing Trust Fund's Board of Trustees on Wednesday evening heard an update on the status of cleaning up soil contamination at the former site of the town garage.

The chairman of the Affordable Housing Committee, who also serves as a trustee for the trust, told her colleagues that the committee has received an estimate of $15,000 for additional cleanup at 59 Water St., a parcel that is being eyed for developing subsidized housing.

"This is work that has been ongoing since last summer that the Affordable Housing Committee has paid for," Catherine Yamamoto said. "Tests were done on the site that determined it had contamination from underground storage tanks."

Yamamoto said her committee has a proposal in hand from environmental engineering firm O'Reilly, Talbot and Okun of Springfield. The proposal, which will be taken up at the AHC's Feb. 12 meeting, says the contaminated earth could be removed and the surrounding areas tested within six weeks of the committee's decision to approve the expenditure.

The trustees decided to let the Affordable Housing Committee continue to deal with the issue, but trust Chairman Stanley Parese noted that if for some reason the committee decides not to authorize the expenditure, the trustees would revisit the issue.

Tuesday's meeting of the housing committee promises to be eventful. Yamamoto also told the trustees that the Feb. 12 session will include a face-to-face meeting with John Ryan, the consultant hired jointly by the trust and committee to assess the town's affordable housing needs.

He plans to share preliminary data and further discuss with the committee what questions to address in a final report that is expected at the end of March, Yamamoto said.

Otherwise, it was a fairly uneventful meeting of the trustees, who took the opportunity to thank the town's Community Preservation Committee for recommending the town approve a $200,000 grant to the trust at May's town meeting. Town meeting OK'd a grant in the same amount in 2012, moments after it authorized creation of the trust.

"We're very pleased and appreciative that the Community Preservation Committee saw fit to recommend that the Affordable Housing Trust again receive $200,000," Parese said. "It's certainly generous relative to their funding capabilities but modest relative to our task at hand.

"Ultimately, town meeting makes the funding decisions."

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