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    « Company which manages nationally cited, super-fast Internet broadband for Leverett says it will respond to new request from Williamstown | Main | Planners set to meet with no clear consensus yet on Deep hotel zoning bid for Waubeeka; Guernsey endorses Gardner language for 60,000-square-foot size limit; Deep silent »

    May 02, 2016

    Comments

    phocion

    Another interesting question that no one seems to have raised is why the College requires Doughty House to be part of the business district. None of the plans presented to date involve building anything that far west.

    Bill Densmore (for Jim Kolesar)

    We asked Williams College spokesman Jim Kolesar to address some of these comments and he provided this reply for posting:

    On Wed, May 4, 2016 at 3:58 PM, Jim Kolesar wrote:
    Bill--

    Here are some reactions to comments on this thread.

    One of them worries about losing available banquet space, but as the Q&A points out the program for the new inn has, from the start, included the same amount of banquet space as the current inn.

    Some raise understandable environmental questions, but 1) Vince Guntlow's study concluded that the land can support the inn environmentally, 2) the official determination of that will not be made at town meeting but through the long permitting process that a zoning change would enable to commence, and 3) Hank Art, who knows and cares as much as anyone about land use in town, wrote to the Planning Board endorsing the idea of that land being put to this use, which he's said then and in other settings he hopes will occur.

    Regarding parking, as the Q&A points out the project would add parking at the end of the street, much of it available for non-inn use for much of the year. That would be a plus for every nearby business and for everyone who drives to do business there.

    Traffic: The firm that did the study, Fuss & O'Neill, is well aware of the deliveries such an inn needs.

    Number of Guest Rooms: The well regarded firm that did a thorough market study concluded that 60 was a good number, but that it was worth considering the possibility of a seasonal annex with another 40. As the Q&A points out that's 16 fewer rooms than the current inn.

    Other Design Details: These are among the million things that would need to be worked out before the building could be permitted. The Planning Board, Zoning Board of Appeals, and Conservation Commission will each have to sign off on these details before the thing could be built. A yes vote at town meeting would not end the permitting process, it'd begin it. Having said that, the college has spent more money studying the site at this stage than almost any other developer would be in position to.

    Peter Pan Buses: Haven't talked directly with them yet, but in what seems the unlikely event that they wouldn't come to the new location, a good alternative could be worked out. When I was a student those buses didn't stop were they do now.

    Entrance to Town vs The Heart of Town: Every example of a similar inn that I can think of in the region is in the heart of its town: The Lord Jeff (Amherst), the Hotel Northampton, The Equinox (Manchester), The Woodstock (Vt.) Inn, The Hanover (N.H.) Inn. And, of course, the Williams Inn that I and others are most nostalgic for was in neither the entrance to town nor its heart.

    As with the bus stop, so with the inn itself: I'm old enough to recall when it was elsewhere and young enough to imagine it successfully being elsewhere still.

    -- Jim Kolesar

    Bill Densmore

    HERE IS AN EXCHANGE THAT WAS POSTED ON FACEBOOK IN RESPONSE TO THIS STORY:

    1 share
    Comments
    Adrian Fox Dunn
    Adrian Fox Dunn Yes, the Inn should stay where it is. It is a perfect location, near campus and Spring Street. Plenty of parking. Why mess up Spring Street with more traffic than it can possibly handle? And where would all the additional parking go?
    Like · Reply · 3 · May 2 at 1:16pm
    Greg Roach
    Greg Roach Putting the "boutique" inn on Spring St was basically a consultant's and a wealthy alumnus' idea. It was and is always about making well heeled alumni happy, as well as the consultant's vision of what a New England college town is supposed to look like. This inn would be designed to compete with the Porches and not be that focused on convention and banquet business. In fact, the loss of the current Williams Inn banquet space will create new problems and also some new possibilities. Good banquet space is actually difficult to find in Williamstown unless you are Williams College itself.

    This will be interesting to watch.
    Like · Reply · 2 · May 2 at 5:45pm
    Adrian Fox Dunn
    Adrian Fox Dunn Well, that explains somewhat why the choice was on Spring St. I still think that it will cause cumbersome traffic and parking problems on that corner. There are many Sundays when the public lot and street parking are completely filled already.
    Like · Reply · May 2 at 7:34pm
    Greg Roach
    Greg Roach It is already a mess when a couple delivery trucks double park and clog up the street. Non Spring St receiving should be a requirement of the project.

    I hate to say it, but some sort of parking garage, especially during the summer and special events, would make a world of difference. Hopefully it could go underground, but it will cost tens of millions and the college and town will fight over who should pay for it and where it should go.
    Like · Reply · 1 · May 2 at 7:42pm
    Adrian Fox Dunn
    Adrian Fox Dunn Is this project a done deal or does Town get to vote on it?
    Like · Reply · May 2 at 8:55pm
    Bill Densmore
    Bill Densmore Voters at the May 17 town meeting must approve by a two-thirds majority a zoning-overlay district that will permit a hotel on the end of Spring Street. Otherwise, the project cannot go forward without revision.
    Like · Reply · Just now

    Bill Densmore (for Joan Burns)

    This email reply from Joan Burns is posted by Bill Densmore

    ​---------- Forwarded message ----------
    From: Burns, Joan
    Date: Mon, May 2, 2016 at 7:26 PM
    Subject: Re: NEWS: Ex-Williams Inn owner sees problems with Spring Street hotel site, prefers Waubeeka or current site; says at least 100 rooms needed for viability
    To: Bill Densmore


    There is a lot that is interesting in that -- to me, particularly the Spring Street problem for buses and trucks. Interesting that the college presently plans to go ahead with these two constructions (inn and bookstore) without any clear mention of traffic and parking except to note a problem at Water and Main which is nothing compared to the above. My strong suspicion is that they don't want to bring the matter up at this time but regard the old town garage site as a strong possibility, which as you know I think would be the last straw for the survival of the non-college heritage in this town. That site should be a focal point for the citizens of Williamstown now that Spring Street is gone. I am really sorry that the economic development committee has been so unproductive.

    The Faulkners (who are my neighbors, by the way)phenomenally managed to bring back the Williams Inn but I think what the town now needs is different.

    Bill Densmore (for Deb Burns)

    This comment is posted by Bill Densmore forwarding email from Deborah Burns:

    ​From: Deb Burns
    Date: Mon, May 2, 2016 at 5:22 PM
    Subject: RE: NEWS: Ex-Williams Inn owner sees problems with Spring Street hotel site, prefers Waubeeka or current site; says at least 100 rooms needed for viability (fwd)
    To: Bill Densmore

    I still think the new Williams Inn should be where B&G is and B&G should be where the town garage is.

    Bill Densmore (for Art Lafave)

    This comments is posted by Bill Densmore from an email received from Art Lafave, former owner of B&L Gulf Service, the gasoline station which stood where Tunnel City Coffee is now located:

    Art Lafave Mon, May 2, 2016 at 7:27 PM
    To: Bill Densmore

    Bill:
    Carl is so right in his opinion on a hotel on Spring Street. It seems strange after saying a theater on Spring Street wouldn’t work because of traffic, then years later saying a hotel would work on Spring Street, in a more remote part of the street . I spent 33 years as a neighbor to the location of the proposed hotel and besides the traffic problem there is a serious water problem -- say nothing about the debris the college dumped to fill the land in, as there was a big hole where the barns are now in Dennison Park and a small brook ran thru there in the spring of the year and no pipe was put in under the fill to drain the area in the wet season.

    The problem won’t only be traffic from guests at the hotel but deliveries and employees and service vehicles. I would assume they would need to build roads to service the inn.

    Yes the internet has changed how people find lodging for trips but Williamstown also seems to attract some tourists by formally driving thru town and deciding to someday stop in the village beautiful -- and the Inn is part of the reason as it is on a main road thru town.

    The 60 room Inn would not be viable on it’s own but as we know Williams can absorb the loss and take care of their own college visitors. The lesser-room hotel would do a disservice to tourism in the busy season and hurt local businesses as well.

    -- Art Lafave

    karenlartin

    Delivery Trucks, Tractor trailer size or other, and Coach style buses and the Berkshire Regional Transit and PeterPan buses are all too large for Spring Street or Hoxey Street and are best accommodated at the current Inn site on The Village Green.

    elizabeth siskind

    Dear Bill

    I so wish that the Eagle would appoint you as editor in chief.

    You interview with the Faulkners (I so miss their hospitality and kindness) is a very thoughtful, interesting and enlightening article.

    The comments to this entry are closed.

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