Letter to the Editor December 2

For Immediate Release

November 30, 2004

To the Editor:

As a second special town meeting regarding Williamstown's waterline approaches, I wish to clarify the position of the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute and its board of trustees regarding the offer it has made to the community of Williamstown.

The Clark has spent two years working on the project of an art, education, and conservation center next to Mount Greylock Regional High School. The proposal centered on keeping the vistas and trails of Phelps Knoll accessible to the public, providing educational programming and partnerships with the high school and supporting Northern Berkshire Health Systems (NBHS). For 18 months of this time we have searched for water sources, always with an eye towards supplying not only Sweetbrook and the Clark but also the High School, whose existing wells have long been known to be non-compliant. We drilled three test wells on site, investigated the options of Indian and Waubeeka Springs, and negotiated at length with Cricket Creek Farm. Every option presented different problems and we were moved to the conclusion that, from our perspective and for the needs of our proposed partnership, the municipal waterline was the only realistic solution for a dependable long term water supply. The information on our water investigation is available at the town library and on our website (www.clarkart.edu/about/press/).

Since February 2003, when we announced the partnership with NBHS and the high school, we have hosted informational meetings for our members, participated in a public forum on the project at the High School (July 2003), and presented the project to various community groups. We have also participated in public selectmen's meetings as well as open forums organized for and by Sweetwood residents, the Mount Greylock board and the elementary and high school PTOs this fall. We are pleased to extend the Clark's good faith offer of the option to support the infrastructure of the town. Most importantly, we continue to be supportive of the process and we welcome the debate. We encourage everyone to attend the meeting on December 2.

The Clark and its board are committed to breaking ground on the important first phase in our building expansion during our 50th anniversary in 2005-06. We look forward to welcoming the generous, thoughtful, and committed residents of the region that we serve to the opening of our new facility, whether that facility is located on Phelps Knoll or on our South Street campus (south of our main entrance, along old Stone Hill Road).

Michael Conforti
Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute

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