Statement from Susan Puddester, President, Higher Ground of Northern Berkshire, 2/19/2016
“Sadly, there is significant water damage to Highland Woods due to a Sprinkler malfunction. Clean up has begun. All parties involved are working hard to an effective resolution. The town, Highland Woods, and Berkshire Housing are working with those individuals affected by this situation.”
By Stephen Dravis
05:43PM / Friday, February 19, 2016
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — A sprinkler system failure has caused a delay to occupancy of the Highland Woods senior housing project.
Berkshire Housing Development Corp. CEO Elton Ogden confirmed on Friday evening that the 40-unit apartment is closed to tenants after a pipe burst on Tuesday while the first batch of residents were in the process of moving in.
Ogden said most of the residents who were planning to move into the apartments this week have been able to stay in the homes they were vacating. And none of the residents’ property was damaged during the incident.
Not so, the building itself.
Ogden said the current plan is to keep the east wing of the structure, where the burst occurred, closed for the foreseeable future and move the residents into the west wing as soon as possible.
About half the building’s apartments were affected by the sprinkler system failure. Ogden said the damage to that side of the building is extensive.
“Obviously, it’s incredibly disappointing for people moving in and us and the construction team,” Ogden said. “Now we have to take it apart and put it back together.
“The good thing is that this didn’t happen two weeks from now [after residents were moved in].”
Ogden said experts have yet to identify the exact cause of the system failure, but he said last weekend’s extreme cold temperatures may have played a role.
The Highland Woods apartments, on land donated by Williams College, sprang from the efforts of town officials and local non-profit Higher Ground to address the crisis arising from Tropical Storm Irene and the subsequent closure of the Spruces Mobile Home Park.
The town has committed $2.8 million toward the project, which is funded largely through federally-backed low-income housing tax credits.
The town’s portion came in the form of $100,000 from the Affordable Housing Trust, $100,000 from the Community Preservation Act fund and $2.6 million in projected proceeds from the Federal Hazard Mititgation Grant tied to the closure of the Spruces.
Last Friday, town officials past and present gathered at Highland Woods for an open house scheduled four days before the planned move-in of the first residents. Among the first occupants of the 40-unit apartment building are a dozen current or former residents of the Spruces, which is slated to be closed for good on Feb. 29.