WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. -- Williams College is conducting four days worth of soil sampling at a potential Water Street site for a $65-million art-museum complex. However the town, which gave permission for the drilling, says it is not a precursor for any particular project.
Dustin Humphrey, a geo-technical engineer for a Springfield, Mass.-based speciality geoenvironmental engineering firm said on Wednesday that his firm had been retained by Williams to do the work. They were on site with a drill rig that has an eight-inch, hole-drilling auger that can take soil samples above bedrock. He said work by O'Reilly, Talbot & Okun would continue for two more days.
Town Manager Jason Hoch said the town gave permission for the college to hire the sampling work on the town's property. "There more we all know about what is underneath the better," he said, adding that the town has had other testing and work done over the years at the site, and Williams has agreed to share with the town what it learns from the new borings.
"There are a handful of things in play now so I can't say this is a precursor for a particular project," added Hoch. "We've talked about a variety of potential uses on that site, obviously there has been talk in the past about buildings." The college also has in mind some possible stormwater improvements, Hoch said.
The truck is at the former site of the town's municipal-equipment garage, which was razed and the site is now a gravel parking lot, owned by the town, which abuts Williams property on two sides, including the Spencer Art Building. The town has permitted various uses on the site since the building was removed.
A year ago, some 300 people signed petitions opposed to an initial location the college was reviewing as a possibility for the museum building -- at Southworth and Main streets. That site was subsequently abandoned by the college, after it held a community discussion. The college said it was look at other possible locations. Those have included the site of the current Williams Inn at Field Park. The college owns the inn land and operation and has said it isn't sure what it would do with the property once it completes planned construction of a new hotel at the south end of Spring Street. In January, a Williams official said the idea of putting the museum at the town garage site was "an interesting scenario."
Williams College has been invited to comment on this post.