by Donna Carlstrom Wied
In the Berkshire Eagle Tuesday, April 5 article, “Waubeeka owner plans to offer concessions,” the writer Scott Stafford seems to imply that opposition to Mr. Deep’s Waubeeka proposal is only from “some members of the Planning Board and some residents of South Williamstown.” Opposition quoted was from “South Williamstown neighbors.” With all due respect, Mr. Stafford, Waubeeka is not just a South Williamstown issue. People from all parts of town are concerned with various aspects of the way Mr. Deep’s initial proposal seems to have morphed into something quite different from the initial golf course with a “3 to 5 acre boutique country inn.”
My own opposition lies primarily with the process by which this potentially far-reaching proposal is going through our town government. My understanding is that Mr. Deep thought his proposal was meeting with obstructionist opposition and sought recourse through taking the issue directly to town meeting. (The line is often fuzzy between obstructionism and due diligence.) Mr. Deep, through Attorney Parese, has, of course, every right to submit a Citizens’ Petition to town meeting, but I suggest that this method is a very imprudent way for the town to rezone any area of town.
Mr. Deep’s proposal should go back to the Planning Board. The Planning Board has both authority and responsibility to be the first board in line to thoroughly vet planning issues. Anyone who has served on any town board can attest that members are expected to familiarize themselves with a great body of specialized knowledge and to adhere to meeting procedures that promote civil discourse. Their recommendations ought to be seriously considered by those of us who sit on the sidelines.
Town Manager Jason Hoch and Community Development Director Andrew Groff have taken the substantial political risk of joining the fracas. I have confidence that they will provide much-needed leadership and fresh professional perspectives to help all of Williamstown reach consensus. We have many intelligent people in this town who have weighed in on the many sides of the Waubeeka proposal. Mr. Hoch and Mr. Groff have promised that they will consider the very insightful (sometimes inciteful) points of view expressed and will craft a by-law that will win Planning Board recommendation. If they can work their magic, the entire town has the potential benefits of a viable golf course, an attractive country inn and restaurant, open space, 40 plus job opportunities and, to quote Mr. Parese’s “conservative” estimate, “a half million dollars in tax revenue.”
Waubeeka is not a South Williamstown issue. It is a Williamstown issue. I urge all Williamstown residents to follow the facts of the continuing saga and to use their collective wisdom. For better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, the choices that the whole Town of Williamstown makes may be with us for a long time.
Donna Carlstrom Wied
Former member of:
Williamstown Cable Advisory Committee,
Williamstown Planning Board, and
Williamstown Elementary School Committee