My first term

I've accomplished quite a bit in three years!

In my first term, I have managed to do a number of things that directly benefit the town.

I wrote the bylaw that created the Affordable Housing Trust Fund that was passed at last year’s Special Town Meeting. I was elected chair of the newly formed Trust’s board. This year the Trust applied for CPA funding from the Community Preservation Committee and received a positive recommendation for Town Meeting approval. The Trust has established a Down Payment Assistance program, that is currently accepting applications from income qualified households. If the additional CPA funding is approved at  this year’s Town Meeting, we will also be offering no interest Home Rehabilitation Loans for low to moderate income homeowners.

As the Selectboard representative to the BRTA advisory board, I am fighting to maintain our current level of service if the state funding is cut. I had managed to get the BRTA to provide signage for the #21 bus that serves Great Barrington. By placing street signs showing where the bus stops and a route map, I hoped to increase awareness and bus ridership and then make a case for adding some bus shelters at the most popular stops. Significant cuts to the #21 bus would work against that — just as the signage is going up.

Also on the transportation front, I have been the Selectboard representative to the Berkshire Metropolitan Planning Organization. I am working with our DPW director to secure significant state funding for roadwork in town.

One of my first appointments was as the Selectboard representative to the Lake Mansfield Improvement Task Force. The Task Force was instrumental in securing grant funding for several improvements to the lake, including the Knob Hill drainage and Boat Launch projects and the design of a new culvert on the north end as well as design and engineering to repair the road itself.

As a member of the Democratic Town Committee, I served as a representative to the state Democratic Convention, and am serving as an alternate this year.

Of course, I have worked on a number of Special Permit applications and approved many common victualler, alcoholic beverage and entertainment licenses.

If re-elected

Going forward…

I hope to continue my work with the Affordable Housing Trust Fund, the BRTA, the MPO and the Lake Mansfield Improvement Task Force.

I would also like to devote some time to economic development. I think it's time to create an Economic Development task force. As parts of town gain access to high speed internet, I think there is the potential to expand the IT business community here in town, but I would also like to see if we can attract high-end craft businesses and some light industry. Our designation as a Cultural District should encourage growth in the creative economy. Plus, I see some real potential (and associated tax benefits) for adult use cannabis, both for growers and retail stores.

Questions? Contact me at: billcooke.gb@gmail.com