by Stephen Dravis
Monday’s meeting included the announcement that [Williamstown Town Manager Jason] Hoch and his Town Hall team nearly have completed a years-long process begun under his predecessor, the closure of the former Spruces Mobile Home Park and the shepherding of $6.1 million grant funded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Hoch told the board that the town has received its last pending major reimbursement under the grant, which was administered by the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency.
The money, predicated on the flood-prone park’s closure and return of the land to a natural state, was used to relocate Spruces residents, remove park infrastructure and help fund the Highland Woods senior affordable housing project off South Street.
Hoch told the board the town has made its last $400,000 payment to Highland Woods developer Berkshire Housing Development Corporation.
“This is the end of a long process,” [Board of Selectmen Chair Andrew] Hogeland noted. “Thank you to Debbie [Turnbull], too. This was years’ worth of work.”
Turnbull, the town manager’s assistant, managed the mobile home park during the period when the town controlled the property on behalf of its owner Morgan Management, which only relinquished title to the town after the last residents were relocated. Turnbull, who was recognized at annual town meeting as the town’s employee of the year, was for many months the point person and advocate for Spruces residents at Town Hall.
Hoch told the board that while most of the money related to the closure has changed hands, there is still some paperwork hanging over the town’s head: the final signoff from FEMA that the terms of the grant have been fulfilled.
“There is no reason to expect any concerns, but the paper is not here with their signature and my signature,” Hoch said. “Hopefully, this will be done by the end of the year.”